Scottish political leaders unite on 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. Earlier this year the World Health Assembly adopted the first ever Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy and committed to elimination by 2030, which of course we support.

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. 

World Hepatitis Day raises awareness of the disease and encourages better access to treatment. We need governments across the world to come together to work to ensure effective prevention and treatment strategies are in place and there’s no better time to renew that call to action.”

Scottish opposition leaders have been quick to throw their support behind the fight to eliminate viral hepatitis with Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, saying:

"I am delighted to lend my support to World Hepatitis Day. Viral hepatitis affects around 400 million people worldwide, and is the seventh largest cause of death globally. In Scotland, 36,700 people have hepatitis C, despite it being preventable, treatable and curable. I am committed to doing what I can to ensure that hepatitis C is eliminated in Scotland."

Kezia Dugdale MSP, leader of Scottish Labour, echoed this call, saying:

“World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to reaffirm Scotland’s commitment to tackling viral hepatitis and in particular hepatitis C, which affects nearly 37,000 people in Scotland. Scotland has a strong record on combating hepatitis C and continuing to support the innovation and investment in new therapies which can help treat the disease, as well as continuing to support investment in prevention is crucial to reducing the fatal diseases and cancers associated with hepatitis C, should it be left untreated. 

Pledging our renewed commitment each year ahead of Word Hepatitis Day reminds us we must work together both here in Scotland and internationally to tackle the virus, which remains a significant public health issue at home and abroad. I both thank and congratulate all the organisations and individuals who work day in and day out to raise awareness of the virus, encourage testing to tackle the large number of undiagnosed carriers, and to help us work towards eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health concern globally in the future.”

Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, also lent his support to World Hepatitis Day, saying:

“Here in Scotland we continue to make meaningful progress towards tackling viral hepatitis and more people than ever are now being tested, diagnosed and treated. However much more work needs to be done with thousands still untreated and undiagnosed, and that can only be done through both raising awareness of the virus and committing to increasing our efforts to find, test, treat and cure.

World Hepatitis Day is Scotland’s chance to show case what we have achieved and reiterate our commitment in working towards beating viral hepatitis.”

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, welcomed the cross-party support for World Hepatitis Day, stating that:

“I am delighted that Scottish political leaders have re-affirmed their commitment to tackling viral hepatitis, and in particular hepatitis C. Such cross-party support is vital if we are to ensure that hepatitis C is eliminated in Scotland, and that people no longer have to live with a virus which is preventable, treatable and curable.”