World-renowned hepatitis C expert behind landmark report on liver disease in Europe

World-renowned hepatitis C expert Professor Sharon Hutchinson is behind a new Lancet Commission report on tackling liver disease deaths in Europe.

The Glasgow Caledonian University Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health was commissioned by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and Lancet journal to help find ways of improving liver health throughout Europe.

Professor Hutchinson was part of a 57-strong international team of experts tasked with identifying barriers to improving liver health and solutions in a report published in the Lancet.

The three-year analysis, ‘Protecting the next generation of Europeans against liver disease complications and premature mortality’, concluded there must be a fundamental shift in the way in which liver disease is prevented, diagnosed and treated.

Professor Hutchinson, a Commissioner for the EASL-Lancet Liver Commission, highlights that while liver disease represents a major health threat to Europeans, prevention and treatment is now possible thanks to significant advances in medicine.

She said: “As recognised in the Commission, Scotland has been at the forefront internationally in tackling liver disease through the early adoption of key public health policies on alcohol and hepatitis C.

“There is still a long way to go to protect the next generation of Europeans against liver disease. A combined European effort is proposed by the Commission – with 10 recommendations including wide-reaching public health policies – to address the mounting health burden caused by liver diseases.”

The expert panel warned that Europe’s fragmented health policies and health systems need to become more integrated, coordinated and effective to enable earlier detection of disease and to bring common risk factors for liver disease like alcohol and obesity under control.

The Commission reports that the “significant stigma associated with liver disease needs tackling, including via the removal of stigma-associated terms in medical nomenclature”.

They added that “policy actions for marketing, pricing, and taxation of alcohol and unhealthy foods are of paramount importance with an ability to reduce premature morbidity and save the lives of almost 300,000 people per year across Europe”.

Professor Hutchinson, from the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses research group, which is part of the University’s Research Centre for Health (ReaCH) – improving health and wellbeing for all, has authored more than 200 research papers.

ReaCH makes a direct and significant contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 3 – good health and wellbeing – issued by United Nations in 2015 as a blueprint for peace and prosperity across the planet.

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