World Hepatitis Day – 28 July 2018
World hepatitis day Theme 2018: Test and Treat Hepatitis
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Various pathologic causes are to be blamed but viral hepatitis B and C are major health challenges, affecting 325 million people globally. They are root causes of liver cancer, leading to 1.34 million deaths every year.
Hepatitis can go un-noticed for years!
Hepatitis B and C are chronic infections that may not show symptoms for a long period, sometimes years or decades.
It is estimated that viral hepatitis B and C take about fifteen to twenty years to cause liver damage. The spectrum of liver disease in Hepatitis B and C can range from asymptomatic carriers to decompensated liver disease.
This is the stage of complications. Complications of liver disease include Ascites ( fluid in the abdomen), blood in vomitus, encephalopathy as manifested by drowsiness and mental status changes, weight loss, and jaundice.
Hepatitis can cause Liver Cancer
At least 60% of liver cancer cases are due to late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C. Liver cancer adds to the misery of the patient, both in terms of financial and health-related morbidity.
Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap to be addressed in order to achieve global elimination goals by 2030.
Prevention is the key factor to be addressed as far as hepatitis B is concerned. Vaccination of Hepatitis B virus has been in the expanded program of immunization for decades.
However, problems arise because the immunity declines with time and a booster dose of vaccination is not religiously followed. Apart from vaccination, prevention should also be aimed at screening blood products, proper handling and disposing of needles and sterilizing surgical and dental instruments.
Early diagnosis of Hepatitis –
For both hepatitis B and C virus infections, early diagnosis is of paramount importance. Since both the viruses can go unnoticed for years, detection at an early stage is very important.
Testing should include viral serology followed by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assays. Furthermore, Screening programs should be initiated from a primary level. With the advent of the latest antiviral medications, failure rates have declined tremendously.
WHO Theme for 2018 World hepatitis day – “Test and Treat”
WHO will focus on the theme: “Test. Treat. Hepatitis” for World Hepatitis Day 2018 events. WHO events and activities can aim to achieve the following objectives globally, in regions and in countries:
- To support scale-up of hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care services, with a specific focus on promoting WHO testing and treatment recommendations
- To showcase best practices and promote universal health coverage of hepatitis services
- and to improve partnerships and funding in the fight against viral hepatitis
WHO and the Government of Mongolia will hold a series of events in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to commemorate the World Hepatitis Day 2018.
The events will engage high-level leaders, advocates and patient representatives from global, regional and national organizations, highlighting the innovative solutions and partnerships needed in scaling up hepatitis testing and treatment services, as well as celebrating the country’s championing experience in the global hepatitis response.
Timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C can save lives.