An estimated 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, and many of these individuals lack access to life-saving testing and treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday. "Viral hepatitis is now recognized as a major public health challenge that requires an urgent response," said Margaret Chan, MD, WHO Director-General. "Vaccines and medicines to tackle hepatitis exist, and WHO is committed to helping ensure these tools reach all those who need them." Viral hepatitis took the lives of 1.34 million people in 2015, a toll comparable to deaths caused by tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. However, while TB- and HIV-related deaths have been declining, deaths from hepatitis are on the rise. WHO noted HBV and HCV epidemics in regions and "hotspots" across the world, and it said that treatment access is low. There is no HCV vaccine as yet, and access to treatment for HBV and HCV is low. The WHO Global Hepatitis Report, 2017 also notes progress in some countries, such as China achieving 96% coverage for the timely birth dose of HBV vaccines and Mongolia improving uptake of hepatitis treatment by including HBV and HCV drugs in its National Health Insurance scheme. The new report "aims to provide a starting point for hepatitis elimination by indicating baseline statistics on HBV and HCV infections, including mortality, and coverage levels of key interventions," WHO said.