(Washington, D.C., January 8, 2021) In 2020, Global Liver Institute (GLI) observed increases in the prevalence of liver diseases and mortality associated with it. These developments are established trends which GLI seeks to reverse. These trends, however, were accelerated directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the continued rise of health disparities. Both of these crises severely impacted access to care and increased the possibility of severe negative health outcomes from liver disease.
In response, late last year GLI submitted a letter directly to President-elect Biden and his transition team laying out the specific policy priorities that must be addressed urgently in 2021. Specifically, GLI urged President-elect Biden to act on six liver health policy/regulatory priorities within three critical categories: COVID-19 response, health disparities, and liver health policy/regulations. Each of these actions would significantly impact the lives of patients with liver disease in the United States.
- COVID-19 Response: Fund public health programs serving those with underlying liver disease and other underlying medical conditions that put patients at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Response: Fund research on how COVID-19 impacts both adult and pediatric patients with liver disease and provide funding to restart NIH-funded liver disease research.
- Health Disparities: Implement strategies targeting liver disease health disparities, especially the excess liver cancer mortality among Black men in America.
- Health Disparities: Urgently respond to the inequities that impact organ transplantation.
- Liver Health Policy: Support the GLI NASH Council national strategy to address the rapidly rising chronic liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), particularly as it affects children.
- Liver Health Regulations: Prioritize regulatory processes to approve therapies for liver diseases, particularly rare liver diseases.
As the only global liver patient advocacy organization, we applaud the steps President-elect Biden has taken to seek and then follow recommendations from the scientific community during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. We also appreciate his early choices of leadership for vital federal health agencies. These early choices and actions clearly recognize the value of collaboration and that investments in public health along with scientific discovery are crucial to improving the nation’s health and economy in both the near- and long-term.
“It is important to acknowledge the impact of these dual crises on people with liver disease,” stated Donna Cryer, president and CEO of GLI. “We must consider the impact on liver health research, public health programs, and the direct connection between liver disease and COVID-19. We must urgently address liver disease health disparities especially in the organ donation system and liver cancer health outcomes. Finally, we must consider the populations impacted by liver diseases that have been ignored for too long.”
Liver health truly is public health, and patients with liver disease deserve to be prioritized.
About Global Liver Institute
Global Liver Institute (GLI) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, with offices in the U.S. and Europe. GLI’s vision is for liver health to take its place on the global public health agenda commensurate with its prevalence and impact. GLI’s mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by liver disease through promoting innovation, encouraging collaboration, and supporting the scaling of optimal approaches to help eradicate liver diseases. Follow GLI on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.