African Viral Hepatitis Convention

Advocacy ˑ Awareness ˑ Elimination




Advocating for the awareness and elimination of viral hepatitis in Africa hosted by GHASSA under the auspices of the Gastroenterology Foundation of SSA in conjunction with the IHPBA meeting 15 – 18 May 2024 Cape Town, South Africa.

Viral hepatitis and liver cancer represent a major public health burden in Africa. It is important that Africa, which has one of the greatest burdens of liver disease, responds to the 2016 WHO call, for the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat, by 2030. This cannot be achieved without further capacity and infrastructure development on our continent.

An African Viral Hepatitis Convention focusing solely on this public health threat, will be hosted by GHASSA (The Gastroenterology and Hepatology Association of SSA) in conjunction with the IHPBA meeting in Cape Town in 2024.

The convention will provide an opportunity for the formation of national and international networks of hepatologists, gastroenterologists, infectious disease specialists and other clinicians, virologists, public health professionals, community health organizations, activists as well as policy makers and Industry to strive towards the elimination of viral hepatitis and liver cancer in Africa. Hepatitis B viral infection (HBV) rates in Africa largely reflect a failure of maternal and child healthcare programmes to prevent HBV mother-child-transmission and early childhood acquisition. HBV is entirely vaccine preventable and only 25% of sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries (12 of 47) have implemented Hepatitis B birth dose vaccination. This warrants urgent and immediate legislation.

Access to curative Direct-acting antiviral agents for chronic hepatitis C remains limited in many SSA countries and we need to learn from the highly successful HCV elimination programmes in Egypt and Rwanda. It is important that we urgently raise awareness of the extent of liver disease in Africa both nationally and internationally.

We need to learn from the lessons learnt in addressing HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, using the capacity and infrastructure developed over the years, in order to increase the profile and management of viral hepatitis and liver disease in Africa. Advocacy in viral hepatitis is gaining momentum globally and the successful patient advocacy programmes in Africa need to be expanded across all regions of Africa to raise the awareness of the importance of preventing hepatitis B mother-child-transmission and to give individuals infected with viral hepatitis a voice to demand care.Advocacy groups play a critical role in overcoming the barriers of stigma associated with viral hepatitis and influencing policy makers, National Departments of Health, and Industry on their obligatory role in providing affordable and accessible diagnostics and therapeutics. What viral hepatitis in Africa requires is an “Nkosi moment”.

Nkosi Johnson, a young fellow, who in 2000, at the first AIDS Conference held in Africa in Durban, South Africa captured the audience and world’s attention to the plight of those living and dying from HIV/AIDS in Africa. This became a landmark and seismic shift in the acceptance that access to HIV care was required for all and catapulted the issue of HIV/AIDS in sub–Saharan Africa onto the global stage. Viral hepatitis in Africa too needs a seismic shift and more specifically a place on the global health funding arena.

Chris Kassianides (Convention Chair), Mark Sonderup & Wendy Spearman (Convention Co-Chairs)


      Commissioner for Health  African Union ‎Commission

Esteemed Colleagues and Partners,

It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I extend my warmest greetings to all participants, attendees, and supporters of the African Viral Hepatitis Convention scheduled to convene in Cape Town in May 2024.

This meeting hosted by GHASSA, The Gastroenterology and Hepatology Association of SSA, will be held in conjunction with the International Hepato-Pancreatico - Biliary Association meeting, and will address the critical issue of deficiencies in viral hepatitis elimination and liver cancer treatment programs in Africa.  

As an ambassador committed to the well-being and advancement of our continent, I am profoundly heartened by the initiative taken. This convention stands as a beacon of collaboration, fostering a platform where experts, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and advocates gather to share knowledge, innovative strategies, and experiences in combating this pressing health challenge.

The African Union remains resolute in its dedication to promoting health equity and accessibility across our diverse nations. Viral hepatitis and liver cancer, with its significant impact on public health, demands concerted efforts and collective action. This gathering presents an invaluable opportunity to not only raise awareness but to forge partnerships, strengthen health systems, and devise comprehensive solutions and support for those affected.

I encourage each participant to actively engage, exchange insights, and contribute to the formulation of actionable plans that will drive progress in the fight against viral hepatitis on our continent. Your dedication and expertise are crucial in shaping a healthier and more prosperous Africa for generations to come.

May this convention provide a platform for transformative change, fostering unity and solidarity in our common pursuit of eradicating viral hepatitis and liver cancer in Africa and ensuring the well-being of every African citizen.

With my utmost support and best wishes.

Warm regards,

H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma

Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development.

 African Union ‎Commission



Danjuma Adda, Nigeria 
Bilal Bobat, South Africa
Geoff Dusheiko, United Kingdom
Manal El-Sayed, Egypt
Neliswa Gogela, South Africa
Eduard Jonas, South Africa
Chris Kassianides, South Africa
Anna Kramvis, South Africa
Funmi Lesi, Switzerland/Nigeria
Gibril Ndow, The Gambia
Ponsiano Ocama, Uganda
John Rwegasha, Tanzania
Janvier Serumondo, Rwanda
Mark Sonderup, South Africa
Wendy Spearman, South Africa
Christian Tzeuton, Cameroon
John Ward, USA