Viral hepatitis remains a major public health challenge. According to the WHO, over 300 million people are living with hepatitis B and C globally, and over 1.3 million die each year from the complications of the disease. Despite the availability of tools and solutions to efficiently tackle viral hepatitis, most countries are far from reaching the 2030 goals to eliminate the virus-caused disease due to programmatic, policy and access barriers.

To stimulate discussions and actions from global stakeholders, share evidence and experiences, and disseminate best practices in the fight against viral hepatitis, the World Hepatitis Alliance, the World Health Organization, and the Government of Portugal hosted a Summit in April 2024 in Lisbon. Over 600 delegates from 95 countries joined in person and virtually, including Jhpiego representatives who shared their work and learnings on efforts to strengthen health services to address Hepatitis C in Nigeria.

Nigeria is one of 10 countries that bears the biggest burden of hepatitis B and C. Over 20 million people live with hepatitis B, C, or both in the country but more than 80% of them do not know their status. Research conducted by the Unitaid-funded STAR Phase 3 initiative and presented by Chidinma Umebido, a senior Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning advisor for Jhpiego Nigeria, found that advocacy and awareness, implementation of simplified service delivery models, peer support and stigma reduction, and tailored health services are key components to improving hepatitis B and C health care in the country.

To strengthen these components and integrate hepatitis B and C screening into existing programs, collaboration with federal and state Ministries of Health and local communities is crucial (such as HIV, key populations and maternal and newborn health) as is expanding access to testing and treatment, specifically Hepatitis C self-testing. The study found that decentralizing Hepatitis C services to primary and secondary levels of care and community-based one-stop-shops for key populations and capacity building for general practitioners led to significant increase in Hepatitis C testing and linkage to Hepatitis C diagnosis and lifesaving treatment.

Dr. Adetiloye Oniyire is Jhpiego’s Country Director for Nigeria.