The nation’s first Action Plan was released in 2011, galvanizing action across the U.S. government and among many nonfederal sectors of society. A three-year update to the Action Plan was developed in 2014, building on the original and further strengthening the nation’s response to an often under-appreciated epidemic. Much has been accomplished over the past five years under these plans. During this same period, new opportunities and challenges have emerged that will shape the future of the nation’s response to viral hepatitis.
So we are pleased that the implementation group comprised of leaders representing 19 federal agencies in the Action Plan has decided to sustain our work and develop an updated Action Plan. Last week, that federal viral hepatitis leadership group convened for a full-day strategic planning meeting to discuss updating the vision, goals, strategies, and structure of the 2017-2020 Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, which is planned for release before the end of 2016.
As the federal agencies and offices work together over the coming months to develop this plan, our efforts will be informed by many inputs, including:
- Lessons from our experiences with the first two Action Plans as well as insights from other federal action plans and strategies;
- Recent guidelines from the World Health Organization on developing national action plans for viral hepatitis ;
- A report anticipated later this spring from the Institutes of Medicine on the feasibility of setting national HBV and HCV elimination targets in the United States;
- Recent advances in the field, such as new testing technologies, new therapy options, and new recommendations for treatment;
- Emerging challenges including increasing HCV infections among persons who inject drugs and barriers to treatment access.
During our discussion last week, the federal partners agreed that the updated Action Plan’s goals should be ambitious but achievable through strategic efforts that make the best use of available financial and human resources. Further, we discussed that the plan’s vision, goals, and strategies should be broadly applicable and framed so that our important partners in this work at the state, Tribal and local levels can actively engage in a shared, coordinated national effort. Finally, we discussed the importance of widely disseminating the updated Action Plan and related information so that all stakeholders will have access to our national goals and can see how their work can be aligned with our national Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.
The lives of millions of Americans are affected by hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Working together, we can further strengthen our nation’s response to viral hepatitis, prevent new infections, improve the health of people living with viral hepatitis, mobilize strategic action on issues of critical need, and achieve life-saving and health-enhancing goals for the nation.