• Sab. Giu 22nd, 2024

EASL Congress 2024: Combating liver disease collectively #EASL24 #EASLnews #EASLCongress

Liver disease has become one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century, affecting over 1.5 billion individuals worldwide, claiming more than 2 million lives annually—equivalent to 4% of all deaths globally—and imposing a substantial economic and societal burden on nations.

Remarkably, 90% of liver disease cases can be prevented, but this requires commitment, comprehensive solutions and collaboration. Efforts to combat liver disease should be implemented at every level: globally, by coordinating policy actions and research initiatives; regionally, by harmonising regulations and sharing best practices across borders; nationally, by developing robust healthcare policies and prevention strategies; and at the community level, by providing education, early detection, and accessible treatment options to all populations.

Today marks the launch of EASL Congress 2024, the largest European liver conference, where 7,000 scientists, doctors, decision-makers, industry representatives, and affected communities from 120 countries are gathering in Milan. Running from 5-8 June, the congress will feature an abundance of current scientific developments in the diverse field of hepatology. This event is where new avenues for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of liver disease are exchanged and explored collectively.

“This congress is not just about sharing knowledge; it’s about forging a global alliance to tackle liver disease head-on, using the latest advancements in medical science and technology, and implementing effective policy actions,” said Prof. Aleksander Krag, Secretary General of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).

Liver disease in the World Health Organization non-communicable disease agenda

Towards this aim, the keynote address by Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe, Regional Adviser for Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, will discuss how to integrate liver health into the broader non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention agenda. Steatotic liver disease affects up to a quarter of the global population, with a growing prevalence linked to increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Yet, it remains neglected, missing in the 2023-2030 Implementation Roadmap for the Global Action for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. Addressing commercial determinants of health through policy actions for marketing, pricing, and taxation of alcohol and unhealthy foods, especially among young people, is of vital importance. For at-risk populations like people who inject drugs, have alcohol disorders or live with obesity, stigma plays a significant role in creating barriers to early disease detection and equitable access to appropriate care as well.

Uniting for Healthy Livers, Healthy Lives

The congress will discuss the progress of the Healthy Livers, Healthy Lives Coalition, founded by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL), the American Association for the Study of the Liver Diseases (AASLD), and the Latin American Association for the Study of the Liver (Asociación Latinoamericana para el Estudio del Hígado; ALEH). This coalition of leading liver associations drives action across clinical, public health, and policy levels, addressing global issues with a united voice and aiming to elevate them on the political agenda of all nations and relevant organisations, like WHO.

Prof. Jeff Lazarus, Chair of the Healthy Livers, Healthy Lives Steering Committee, stated: “Our coalition exemplifies the power of international collaboration in tackling liver disease. By welcoming diverse expertise and perspectives, we can drive meaningful change and push liver health higher up on the global health agenda. Initiatives like World Liver Day—observed on 19 April—and our ongoing discussions at the WHO’s World Health Assembly are pivotal in raising awareness and advocating for comprehensive prevention, care and treatment strategies worldwide.”

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