How can policymakers best prepare health systems?
With the rising toll of NASH, there is a clear public health imperative to reduce its global burden. We need to include NAFLD and NASH in policies on obesity and related conditions.
Improving public awareness will be crucial, and we must also promote greater understanding of NAFLD and NASH among healthcare professionals outside of the hepatology community. NASH is difficult to diagnose because symptoms such as fatigue and abdominal pain can easily be mistaken for something else. A multidisciplinary approach to NASH has been shown to have a beneficial impact on liver disease, metabolic conditions and CVD in people with NAFLD and type 2 diabetes; however, multidisciplinary NASH care is not widely available in practice.
Investment in better diagnosis and treatment will also be key. Currently, there are no reliable non-invasive tools to confirm a diagnosis of NASH; this can only be done by liver biopsy – an invasive, costly and often painful procedure. And there are no treatments specifically designed to decrease progression of NASH.
More data on NASH are needed to better understand its prevalence and far-reaching implications. Currently, limited data on NASH hinder workforce planning and our ability to prepare health systems to meet the needs of people with NAFLD and NASH.
Raising awareness: International NASH Day
Underpinning these recommendations is the need for all of us to recognise the importance of good liver health. Marking International NASH Day is a central part of this effort.
To mark this year’s International NASH Day, we’ve launched a new report, Creating a policy narrative around NASH in Europe and the Middle East, which provides a comprehensive review of NASH in Europe and the Middle East from a policy perspective. It lays the foundation for a measured policy response anticipating the rise of NASH and is grounded in up-to-date estimates of the epidemiology and impact of NASH. It was developed by HPP under the leadership of an international independent steering committee of experts on NASH and liver disease across Europe and the Middle East.
It is our hope that our report will contribute to building greater awareness of NASH and drive policy change to address this critical public health challenge in years to come.
This blog post refers to a report that has been initiated and funded by Gilead Sciences Europe. Gilead has had no input into the report content. To find out more about the new report, please see the NASH project page.