World Hepatitis Day, 28 July 2018
World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year to raise national and international awareness about hepatitis and to encourage actions by individuals, partners and the public to achieve global elimination goals by 2030 (reducing new infections by 90% and mortality by 65% compared with the 2015 baseline).
The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus (HBV) and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus.
In order to achieve the global elimination goal by 2030; the most important gap due to low coverage of testing and treatment has to be addressed. This year’s World Hepatitis Day theme from WHO is “Test. Treat. Hepatitis”. Timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C can save lives.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to chronic hepatitis, which can lead to progressive scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses of 5 types- hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D virus (HDV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV) are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world.
Of these hepatitis B and C are chronic infections that may not show symptoms for a long period, sometimes years or decades and then become the root causes of liver cancer. According to Global hepatitis report 2017, viral hepatitis B and C are major public health problems affecting 325 million people globally and leading to 1.34 million deaths every year. Implementation of prevention and treatment interventions within the context of the universal health coverage framework will reduce infections and deaths due to hepatitis B and C.
Do you know?
- Over 90% of new hepatitis B infections occur through mother- to- child transmission and during early childhood.
- Other high risk groups are:
- people who injects drugs;
- men who have sex with men;
- people who have had tattoos or acupuncture;
- partners of people living with hepatitis B;
- health care workers.
- Viral hepatitis B and C are major health challenges, cause 96% of the mortality from viral hepatitis.
- More than 60% of liver cancer cases are due to late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C infections.
- Hepatitis B infection in children reduced from 4.7% (before introduction of hepatitis B vaccine) to 1.3% in 2015 after introduction of hepatitis B vaccine.
- Infections with HCV in adults continue to occur, mostly due to injecting drug use and unsafe injections in health care settings in certain countries.
- Hepatitis can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and even cured.
How to prevent hepatitis?
Viral hepatitis can be prevented and elimination can be achieved through sufficient service coverage of synergistic prevention and treatment interventions in the form of:
- Increasing awareness about all types of hepatitis help reduce transmission in the community.
- Use of vaccines for prevention of HAV and HBV.
- Promotion of blood supplies based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donations and precautions to prevent infection through blood and blood products.
- Safe injection practices along with infection control precautions in health care settings.
- Safer sex practices, including minimizing the number of partners and using barrier protective measures (condoms) (protect against HBV, HIV and possibly against HCV transmission)
- Harm reduction practices for injecting drug users prevent HBV, HCV, HAV and HIV transmission.
- Occupational safety measures for health care workers.
- Safe water supply, food safety, improved sanitation, hand washing to prevent hepatitis A and E.
- Counselling to reduce liver-related harm (such as alcohol, smoking).
- Early diagnosis and treatment prevents complications and transmission of the disease to others.
- Introduction of confirmatory testing and the notification and counselling of blood donors who have reactive results detected during screening of donated blood provide unique opportunities for early diagnosis and medical support to asymptomatic individuals who come to donate blood.
Know more about hepatitis at- www.nhp.gov.in/