Thursday, April 12, 2018

Watch - Liver Congress™ 2018 - First Press Conference HEPAHEALTH Project Report

The International Liver Congress™ 2018 (ILC) - Press Conference 1

First official press conference of The ILC 2018 in Paris, France, chaired by EASL Governing Board member Prof Massimo Pinzani on Wednesday, 11 April 2018.

This press conference highlighted the HEPAHEALTH Project Report.
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HEPAHEALTH Project Report -- risk factors and the burden of liver disease in Europe and selected Central Asian countries
11 April 2018, Paris, France: The HEPAHEALTH Project Report, which was presented today in a press conference at The International Liver Congress trade; 2018 in Paris, France, is the second overview commissioned by EASL on the burden of liver disease in Europe. The report encompasses 35 countries in total: the EU region, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and Uzbekistan.

The aims of the report were to: report on the latest epidemiological burden of liver disease in the wider European region; present the data on the main risk factors for liver disease; and, carry out a review of review on public health interventions.

Since EASL published its first overview in 2013, the situation has not improved. In particular, liver cancer mortality has increased and only a few countries have seen a decrease or even a stabilisation in rates since 1980.

The European region is the highest consumer of alcoholic beverages in the world and efforts to reduce alcohol consumption are stalling in many countries. Likewise, rates of obesity have risen across almost every country the report surveyed since 2013 and the rates of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) are increasing accordingly. In Southern and Eastern Europe viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver disease mortality.

Two key points stand out in the findings of the report: 

Liver disease kills early: Two thirds of all potential years of life lost due to liver disease were working years of life. This contrasts with other diseases, such as stroke, where the majority of deaths occur after the age of 65.

A geographical and income divide: Liver disease mortality has decreased across Western and Central Europe since 1970. Most of the countries with high stable or increasing rates of liver disease are located in the poorer parts of the European Union and the countries of the former Soviet Union. The UK and Finland deviate from the rest of Western European and Nordic trends: Both countries have seen steep increases in liver disease mortality since 1970.

What needs to be done? 

Vaccinations for Hepatitis B virus and screening of blood products across the EU since the early 1990s has helped to drastically reduce the number of HBV infections. Better harm reduction policies and micro-elimination strategies must be implemented across the region if there is to be an impact on Hepatitis C Virus infection rates. -The new generation of direct acting antivirals will largely eliminate cases of HCV provided that governments ensure that all patients who need them have access to treatment.

It is clear that prevention is the key to reducing other liver diseases, particularly for alcohol and obesity related liver disease where effective treatments do not exist or are not very effective. European countries must do more to promote a reduction in alcohol consumption and to reduce levels of obesity. The European Union and its member states used to be a world leader in progressive public health policies: It is time for them to get back in the saddle and save another generation from liver disease.

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