Scottish political leaders issue statements to mark World Hepatitis Day

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, and the leaders of the two main opposition parties in Scotland have issued statements to mark World Hepatitis Day 2017, reiterating the cross-party support for eliminating hepatitis C.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, said:

“The Scottish Government remains committed to being a world leader in tackling hepatitis C, which affects nearly 37,000 people in Scotland. Huge progress has been made since the Scottish Government first pledged to eliminate hepatitis C in 2015, but we are determined to make progress in diagnosing more patients and we are committed to reducing the number of people developing hepatitis C-related liver failure or liver cancer by 75% by 2020.

“Every patient we treat for hepatitis C is another person spared from increased risk of fatal liver disease. With highly-effective, curative treatments available for hepatitis C, we can eliminate the virus as a serious public health concern by 2030. I am happy to mark World Hepatitis Day by reiterating Scotland’s commitment to the elimination of hepatitis C.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

"Scotland has a proud record of tackling hepatitis C but it is vital that this momentum is maintained. The first step towards eliminating hepatitis C is to increase the numbers of people being tested. Testing for hepatitis C should become a routine part of healthcare and treatment must be made available to all who need it.

It is only by testing, diagnosing and treating more people that we can stop the spread of hepatitis C and begin to make progress towards eliminating the virus. I am happy to lend my support to World Hepatitis Day, and look forward to the day that we can celebrate the absence of hepatitis C as a public health threat in Scotland.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“As we mark World Hepatitis Day, it is important to remember that nearly 37,000 people in Scotland are affected by hepatitis C. With over 40% of those undiagnosed, it is essential that we increase public awareness of the virus and expand access to testing among at-risk groups.

While Scotland has led the way in the UK on tackling hepatitis C in recent years, there are signs that progress is slowing. It is concerning that some patients in Scotland are having to wait to receive treatment, which should be made available immediately following diagnosis. Scotland also needs a dedicated elimination strategy, to set out the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve elimination by 2030.

We should be proud of the progress that has been made in Scotland, but I hope World Hepatitis Day will remind us of the work still to be done.”