On World Hepatitis Day, July 28th, 2023, the European Union (EU) is still facing challenges in eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, as committed in 2016. Chronic hepatitis B and C remain significant issues, with 4.7 million cases of chronic hepatitis B and 3.9 million cases of chronic hepatitis C in the EU/EEA region. Many cases continue to go undiagnosed due to the asymptomatic nature of the “silent disease”. A recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control found that in 2020 only eight EU countries were able to estimate hepatitis B diagnosis rates, and just seven could do the same for hepatitis C. Among them, only about half achieved the target of at least 50% population diagnosed.
Beyond the testing challenges, the latest Eurostat data from 2020 highlight significant disparities in hepatitis-related deaths across EU countries, with Italy, Latvia, and Austria being the most affected, while Switzerland, Slovakia, and Finland reported the lowest number of deaths from viral hepatitis. Furthermore, when examining regional data, Campania in Italy emerged as the most affected region in the EU, followed by two other Italian regions: Puglia and Basilicata. Conversely, regions such as North Brabant in the Netherlands and South-West Oltenia in Romania reported the least number of hepatitis-related deaths per 100 000 inhabitants.
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