As more countries worldwide develop national viral hepatitis strategies, it is important to ask whether context-specific factors affect their decision-making. This study aimed to determine whether country-level socioeconomic factors are associated with viral hepatitis programmes and policy responses across WHO Member States (MS).
WHO MS focal points completed a questionnaire on national viral hepatitis policies. This secondary analysis of data reported in the 2013 Global Policy Report on the Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis in WHO Member States used logistic regression to examine associations between four survey questions and four socioeconomic factors: country income level, Human Development Index (HDI), health expenditure and physician density.
This analysis included 119 MS. MS were more likely to have routine viral hepatitis surveillance and to have a national strategy and/or policy/guidelines for preventing infection in healthcare settings if they were in the higher binary categories for income level, HDI, health expenditure and physician density. In multivariable analyses, the only significant finding was a positive association between having routine surveillance and being in the higher binary HDI category (adjusted odds ratio 26; 95% confidence interval 2.0–340).
Countries with differing socioeconomic status indicators did not appear to differ greatly regarding the existence of key national policies and programmes. A more nuanced understanding of the multifaceted interactions of socioeconomic factors, health policy, service delivery and health outcomes is needed to support country-level efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis.