London Assembly passes motion calling on Mayor to raise awareness of hepatitis C

A motion calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to take the lead on raising awareness of hepatitis C passed unanimously yesterday in the London Assembly.

The motion stated:  “This Assembly believes that hepatitis C is a serious public health and health inequalities issue in London and urges the London Mayor, in his role as Chair of the London Health Board, to lead efforts to raise awareness about the condition and new curative treatments available. This Assembly also calls on the Mayor to outline his plans and timelines for the steps and measures he is taking to accomplish this.”

Susan Hall AM tabled the motion and told assembly members that hepatitis C is something “we all need to be talking about”. She highlighted that an estimated 40,000 people are living with hepatitis C in London, rendering it a “major public health issue” that affects the most vulnerable members of society, including people who inject drugs, the homeless and people in prison. With new easy treatments available “we really could eradicate this in London and we must do all we can”.

Onkar Sahota AM seconded the motion, stressing that 30% of people in the UK with hepatitis C live in London. With so many people unaware that they have the virus, testing and raising awareness about the new treatments is really vital. Sahota commended the Mayor for working in partnership with Public Health England and the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C towards achieving elimination. However, he warned that work on prevention is restricted by cuts to local authority public health budgets.

Responding to the debate, Policy Lead of the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C, Dee Cunniffe, said: “Tackling hepatitis C is a common-sense issue which can deliver immense improvements to quality of life for some of the most marginalised people in society as well as huge cost savings. I’m delighted to see cross-party support for eliminating hepatitis C in London. London could be the first city in the world to eliminate this deadly virus if efforts are ramped up.”