The VHPB was set up in 1992, under the auspices of the Society for Occupational Medicine, with the aim to eliminate transmission of hepatitis B in all workers at risk in the industrialised world. From 1993 onwards, the scope was progressively extended, first to hepatitis B as a community health risk (under the auspices of the European Public Health Association), and later to hepatitis A and C.

Up to 2013, activities mainly targeted primary prevention of viral hepatitis, and more specifically hepatitis B vaccination. In line with WHO’s Framework for Global Action for the Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis Infection, the VHPB wished to also address secondary and tertiary prevention (care and treatment), necessary to achieve a meaningful degree of prevention and protection.

Geographically, activities of the VHPB initially focussed on Western Europe but were then expanded to include all 53 countries in the WHO European Region. In 1996 a first meeting was organised on the ‘Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (Siófok, Hungary), in collaboration with WHO and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

WHO regions expressed their interest in the structure and activities of the VHPB, resulting in a meeting on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in Latin America and Brazil, organized in conjunction with the Brazilian Ministry of Health in Brasília, in March 2014. 

In recent years, the VHPB has mainly focussed it’s activities in Europe, with two meeting annually:

– one technical meeting discussing a specific topic in the field of viral hepatatis prevention and control

– one country/regional meeting, where the VHPB tries to bring together public health & academic experts and national organisations to discuss the efforts, achievements and challenges of a specific country or region towards the WHO elimination goals.