Imperial College London

IGHI Podcast: The global burden of viral hepatitis

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IGHI speaks to Professor Graham Cooke to discuss how viral hepatitis is affecting populations around the world and what’s being done to treat it.

Ahead of the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s November Global Health Forum on viral hepatitis, we sat down with speaker Professor Graham Cooke to get a better insight into the burden of the infection.

Professor Cooke is based within Imperial’s Division of Infectious Diseases. His research focuses on making treatment for infections more precise and access to medicines, including for viral hepatitis.

In the podcast, he highlights the struggle to get viral hepatitis addressed on a global level, as a health issue that’s previously lacked attention. There have also been challenges associated with measuring the burden of hepatitis, which he touches on. Professor Cooke has been working with the Global Burden of Disease project to get a better understanding of the rate of deaths from infection with hepatitis viruses, which he describes as “the only effort globally” to look into the statistics associated with viral hepatitis.

While many individuals are now being vaccinated against hepatitis B, a similar solution has yet to be discovered to tackle hepatitis C. But Professor Cooke explains that on a positive note, the nature of treatment has improved with the development of shorter treatment regimens, which benefits both patients and healthcare providers. 

In 2016, the World Health Organization announced a campaign to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. Professor Cooke gave his opinion on the biggest barrier to achieving this: “Probably the biggest challenge overall is going to be testing the number of people we need to get into care for both hepatitis B and C.” He felt that a major scale-up of testing was needed in highly affected areas if this goal was to be met. 

For the full story you can listen to our conversation with Professor Cooke in our podcast here.

You can also hear more about his work on viral hepatitis by attending our Global Health Forum on 22 November. Register here to attend. He will be joined by Dr Marcus Dorner, Professor Timothy Hallett, Bryony Simmons and Dr Shevanthi Nayagam.

Reporter

Nikita Rathod

Nikita Rathod
Institute of Global Health Innovation