Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can cause a range of health problems and can be fatal. There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. While they all cause liver disease, they differ in important ways including modes of transmission, severity of the illness, geographical distribution and prevention methods. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis, cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths. An estimated 325 million people worldwide live with hepatitis B and/or C, and for most, testing and treatment remains beyond reach.
Some types of hepatitis are preventable through vaccination. A WHO study found that an estimated 4.5 million premature deaths could be prevented in low- and middle-income countries by 2030 through vaccination, diagnostic tests, medicines and education campaigns. WHO’s global hepatitis strategy, endorsed by all WHO Member States, aims to reduce new hepatitis infections by 90% and deaths by 65% between 2016 and 2030.