Monday, 20 November 2017

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“Prevent hepatitis. Act now.”

2015 07 28 World Hepatitis Day1

28.7.2015 - “Prevent hepatitis. Act now,” is the theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day being promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners.  The message urges people to ‘prevent hepatitis’ by: 1) knowing the risks, 2) demanding safe injections, 3) vaccinating children, and 4) getting tested/seeking treatment.

Today’s flagship event is taking place in Egypt where, according to the WHO, 10% of the population between the ages of 15 and 59 is infected chronically with the hepatitis C virus. Forms B and C are of particular focus this year because, as the WHO further observes, they together “cause approximately 80% of all liver cancer deaths and kill close to 1.4 million people every year.”

2015 07 28 World Hepatitis Day2There has been a growing awareness of this international heath issue since the day was first officially recognized 5 years ago. Last year, the 67th World Health Assembly passed resolution WHA67.6 which engaged the issue of viral hepatitis, and then followed-up with new guidance for treating the 5 distinct forms of the disease.  Continuing this push, countries will share their best practices for treating the disease this September at the first-ever World Hepatitis Summit in in Glasgow, Scotland.   

In recent years, there has been progress particularly in where the hepatitis B vaccine has been issued.  In such countries, the infection rate of the hepatitis B virus has dropped from 1 in 10 to 1 in 100 among immunized children.  But there is still much to be done and prevention is the key, especially against the hepatitis C virus which has no vaccine yet.

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