Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Impact of 2008 Economic Crisis on Hepatitis B and C Burden in Southern and Western Europe

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The economic downturn that began in 2008 has left an indelible mark on various sectors, including healthcare, particularly in Southern and Western Europe. This study delves into the repercussions of the economic crisis on the prevalence and severity of hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) in these regions. A comprehensive analysis of data from the Global Burden of Diseases 2019 reveals how the financial constraints influenced the epidemiological trends of these viral infections over a span of two decades.

The research utilized time series modeling to quantify the impact of healthcare expenditure on HBV and HCV disease burden from 2000 to 2019. The findings indicate a general decline in the incidence and prevalence rates of both acute and chronic HBV in Southern and Western Europe. However, the rate of decline was notably slower in the years following the economic crisis (2010-2019). Mortality due to HBV stabilized in Southern Europe during this period.

HCV Trends and Liver Cancer Burden

For HCV, the metrics for acute infections and chronic incidence and mortality remained stable across both regions. Interestingly, the prevalence of chronic HCV showed fluctuating trends, with a notable decrease in Western Europe from 2010 to 2019. Despite these trends, the burden of liver cancer resulting from both HBV and HCV infections remained stagnant over time, indicating a persistent challenge in combating these diseases.

Economic Crisis and Health Expenditure

The study also uncovered an inverse relationship between health expenditure and the epidemiological metrics of both acute and chronic HBV and HCV. Reduced healthcare spending during the economic crisis likely contributed to the slower decline in infection rates and the stabilization of mortality rates. This inverse association underscores the critical role of adequate healthcare funding in managing and mitigating the burden of viral hepatitis.

Key Inferences

– The economic crisis of 2008 slowed down the decline in HBV and HCV infection rates in Southern and Western Europe.
– Mortality rates due to HBV stabilized in Southern Europe, while liver cancer burden from both infections remained unchanged.
– Adequate healthcare funding is essential to combat viral hepatitis effectively and achieve the elimination goals by 2030.

The study concludes that the 2008 economic crisis negatively impacted the battle against HBV and HCV in Southern and Western Europe. With the current trends, the goal of eliminating these infections by 2030 remains a significant challenge for these regions.

Original Article: BMC Public Health. 2024 Jun 20;24(1):1642. doi: 10.1186/s12889-024-18912-0.

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