A UN Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis

Representatives from several countries listen to presentations on hepatitis elimination

A UN Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis

On September 20th, the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination hosted a side-event to the 77th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on “Solidarity for Hepatitis Elimination: A Call for a UN Group of Friends.” This event brought together participants from more than 20 countries, including ministers of health, permanent representatives to UN missions, national hepatitis program coordinators, alongside international partners. A total of 10 official county representatives from Chile, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Ukraine voiced commitment to joining a Group of Friends over the course of the event. Similar support was voiced by government affiliated academic representatives from China and Japan. Korea announced readiness to explore formation. 

Since the side-event in September of 2022, the Group of Friends formation was formalized with the Permanent Mission of Egypt as its leader. The Coalition is proud to serve as the group's Secretariat, and will provide frequent updates and important information on this webpage for stakeholders and supporters of the Group.

Progress Towards a Group of Friends

On Dec 20, 2022, building on the momentum from the event, Egypt's Permanent Representative, Ambassador Osama Abdelkhalek, formally invited all Member States to join the Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis. He wrote, "The Group of Friends on Hepatitis Elimination is built on a foundation of building political will to promote access to hepatitis prevention, care, and treatment and seeks to provide a platform for exchanging information, best practices, models for innovation and lessons learned."

The Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations launched the Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis with a kickoff meeting on February 28, 2023. The event was hosted by Ambassador Abdelkhalek and attended virtually by sixty participants from more than twenty-five member states. Also in attendance were partners from WHO, the African Union, and the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, which serves as secretariat of the group.

Why is a Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis needed?

Viral Hepatitis is a massive global health threat. More than 300 million people live with viral hepatitis, and it kills 800,000 people a year. Despite the availability of safe testing, treatment and vaccines, viral hepatitis causes more deaths globally than HIV, malaria, or tuberculosis. Unfortunately, many countries lack the funding and political urgency necessary to defeat the disease. Deficiencies in resources and infrastructure, as well as a dearth of reliable data, are major barriers.

In recognition of the threat posed by viral hepatitis, the United Nations and the WHO have established goals for elimination by 2030. Those goals include specific targets: a 90% reduction in incidence and a 65% reduction in mortality.

Right now, though some countries are meeting benchmarks towards these goals, many are not. Only by scaling up efforts to vaccinate newborns and sharply increase testing and treatment, particularly in Africa, will we achieve global elimination. A UN Group of Friends can unite the world in a shared purpose, with cooperative health diplomacy, to eliminate hepatitis by the end of this decade.

What will a Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis do?

The activities of the Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis will be determined by the participating Member States. The Coalition is supporting communications to encourage participation by all Member States and increase awareness regarding the launch mission and goals of the group.

The Group of Friends will focus on building political commitment for hepatitis elimination within countries and globally. Participating Member States will meet regularly, along with supporting organizations, with goals such as information sharing, strengthening international cooperation, and promoting equity.

Who can join?

Member States of the United Nations General Assembly can join the UN Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis through the Representatives of their Permanent Missions.

Where can I get more information on the UN Group of Friends?

The Coalition will continue to post news and updates related to the Group of Friends here on our website, as well as sharing through our social media on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

If you are a representative from a Member State or a related health organization, and you would like specific information on joining the Group of Friends to Eliminate Hepatitis, please email us at globalhep [at] taskforce.org.

Last day updated 17 Mar 2023