Nicola Sturgeon unites with Scottish opposition leaders in support for World Hepatitis Day

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, the First Minister of Scotland, today joined with opposition leaders to pledge her support for World Hepatitis Day, and re-iterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling viral hepatitis.

In a statement, she said: “Scotland is committed to eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health concern, and the Scottish Government will do what it can to support global efforts to achieve this goal. The innovation of new therapies for hepatitis C is a watershed moment for viral hepatitis, but we must not lose focus on the vital issue of prevention of disease. Scotland will continue to invest in prevention initiatives and this must be a central part of any national and international plan.”

This year is a momentous one for hepatitis C in Scotland, not just with the increasing availability of new treatments but also with the publication of the revised Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework, as well as the staging of the World Hepatitis Summit in Glasgow in September.

The First Minister’s commitment to tackling the virus, which affects around 37,000 people in Scotland, was shared by opposition leaders in the Scottish Parliament. Iain Gray MSP, acting leader of Scottish Labour, issued a statement saying:

“Viral hepatitis affects tens of thousands of people across Scotland, with the majority of those people having hepatitis C. Given that, if left untreated, hepatitis C can cause fatal liver disease and cancer, it is essential that we continue the fight against it. World Hepatitis Day offers us the chance to not only raise awareness of the virus, but to also renew our commitment to improving testing and treatment in order to ensure that we are able to eliminate the virus as a serious public health concern. I congratulate all those individuals and organisations working across Scotland working to combat the virus, and thank them for their work.”

Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, echoed his call, saying that:

“World Hepatitis Day offers us the chance to reflect on the work done in Scotland on viral hepatitis, and the work still to do. In particular, hepatitis C, despite being treatable and curable, remains a significant public health issue in Scotland, with almost half of all people with the virus still undiagnosed.

This summer a new Framework will be launched that aims to drive the hepatitis C strategy in Scotland, ahead of the World Hepatitis Summit in Glasgow. There has never been a better time to be ambitious about the potential to tackle and eliminate hepatitis C and I urge the continuation of this good work on increasing awareness and encouraging testing.”

Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, added his support, saying that:

“Here in Scotland we have made significant progress towards tackling viral hepatitis and more people than ever are now being tested, diagnosed and treated. But we know that this is a global issue that requires an international solution. 

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to recognise the success we have had here in Scotland and reiterate our commitment to working to beat viral hepatitis for good.”