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EU Should Better Prevent Citizens From Hepatitis, Says Liver Patients Organisation ELPA

BRUSSELS, July 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

There are still startling differences in hepatitis prevention and access to treatment across the different EU Member States. Almost one year after the publication of the Euro Hepatitis Care Index by the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA), the situation has not improved much. "Even the EU Member States ranking high on the Index do not perform consistently well, but rather on specific aspects and are lagging behind on others", says Tatjana Reic, President of ELPA on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day (WHD) on 28 July.

Germany for example is strong in prevention and medical treatment but lags behind in early detection. Most startling remains the overall inadequacy in governmental actions on holistic strategic level. These and more detailed findings about the situation in the EU Member States, Switzerland and Norway can be found in the "Euro Hepatitis Care Index", conducted by ELPA and the Swedish think tank Health Consumer Powerhouse.

"Encouraging Member States to develop national hepatitis plans addressing the alarming differences in prevention, detection and access to treatment of viral hepatitis is an important step forward," says Mrs Reic.

Founded in 2004, today ELPA represents 30 liver patients' organisations from 24 countries and participates in the campaign to promote the WHD annually. Coinciding with this year's celebrations, the World Health Organization (WHO) will announce the Viral Hepatitis: Global Policy Report. The Report shows government policies of each World Health Organization Member State on viral hepatitis.

"The efforts and dedication of the WHO to raise the awareness of viral hepatitis and address the issues is applaudable. As a patient organization we at ELPA fully support this initiative and will continue our fruitful collaboration with the WHO by complimenting the Report and sharing the patients' perspective", says Mrs Reic.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. Across Europe, 23 million citizens are infected with the hepatitis virus, with many new infections annually and 125,000 fatal casualties due to hepatitis-related diseases annually, a figure that is increasing. The WHO estimates that two billion people worldwide have been infected with the hepatitis B virus, about 150 million people suffer from a chronic hepatitis C and more than 350 million have chronic liver infections. Without treatment, both types can lead to cirrhosis and cancer and can cause serious secondary damages such as cardio vascular diseases or diabetes.

SOURCE European Liver Patients Association (ELPA)
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