Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It is a significant public health issue in New Zealand. The rising burden of disease includes increasing illness and deaths from cirrhosis and liver cancer due to chronic hepatitis C.
This action plan will guide the health sector and services working in hepatitis prevention or treatment. It provides a framework for working towards the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) goal to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.
This National Hepatitis C Action Plan will focus on improving equitable health outcomes for all New Zealanders living with hepatitis C, and on advancing the health aspirations of Māori, consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi obligations.
Priority groups are those living with hepatitis C or who are at high risk of developing chronic hepatitis C and the serious long-term complications of infection. In New Zealand this includes people who currently inject drugs, and others living with hepatitis C.
The priority settings for this action plan are needle exchanges, prisons, primary and community care services, and alcohol and other drug services.
The activities outlined in this action plan are grouped into five focus areas that will contribute to the overarching goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030:
- awareness and understanding
- prevention and harm reduction
- testing and screening
- surveillance and monitoring
- integration and access to care.
The Ministry of Health will phase delivery of the activities specified in this action plan. An implementation plan will provide a road map for the first phase of work, to be undertaken between 2021 and 2025.