World Hepatitis Day.
Theme: Hepatitis-free future
When the world is battling to cope up with COVID19 pandemic, many of the challenges posed to humanity have gone to the background. Diseases like TB, Hepatitis continue to threaten humanity yet to find solutions to tackle them. COVID adding one more to the list of incomplete tasks.
World Hepatitis Day is being observed, to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that results in a range of health issues, including liver cancer. There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus (A to E) with hepatitis B and C being the most common cause of deaths. WHO notes that Hepatitis is the second-most killer disease after TB. World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to join hands to educate about hepatitis being a global public health concern and development of new technologies for early diagnosis, prevention, cure and treatment.
Viral hepatitis is contagious and a global epidemic that can affect millions of people without their knowledge. As people living with viral hepatitis, do not know that they are infected, live with it for many years before manifesting in severe implications to the health of the liver and the possibility of transmitting the infection to others unknowingly.
A hepatitis-free future is achievable with a concerted by all the countries, WHO has called on all the countries to work towards eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. With less than 10 years to go, it is going to be a daunting task. It is included in the SDGs for having to work for a global hepatitis strategy to eliminate the disease.
Organising Hepatitis Day has a Cuttack link. Prof SP Singh of SCB Medical College proposed that 28th July be designated as Hepatitis day, which was adopted by World Health Assembly in 2010. It is now recognised in more than 100 countries. Before this World Hepatitis day was being celebrated on different days. Incidentally, it is the birthday of Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus.
Treatment options for hepatitis depend on the type of hepatitis (acute or chronic). Practising good hygiene is one of the important ways to avoid contracting hepatitis A and E. Hepatitis B, C, and D are contracted through contaminated blood. Complications of prolonged hepatitis would lead to chronic liver disease, liver cancer and kidney failure. Vaccines are available for some and others it is work in progress.
While hepatitis viruses most commonly cause the disease, it is also caused by excessive alcohol consumption (alcoholic hepatitis) and exposure to some industrial organic solvents. In some rare cases, the white blood cells attack the liver, causing chronic inflammation and damage (autoimmune hepatitis).
With an estimated 40 million people suffering from chronic Hepatitis B and 6-12 million people infected with Hepatitis C, it has become one of the pressing public health concerns in India.
Worldwide, ~290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and provide health care, many will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost.
Viral hepatitis is a silent epidemic, and we can only defeat it if we break that silence. Now is the time to learn the risk factors for hepatitis; talk to family, friends, and neighbours who may be at risk; and to speak with healthcare providers about strategies for staying healthy…. Let each of us lend our support to those living with hepatitis and do our part to bring this epidemic to an endBarack Obama
The challenge before us is to:
- Prevent infection among Newborns
- Stop Transmission from Mother to Child
- Leave no one Behind
- Expand access to Testing and Treatment
More importantly during the COVID19 pandemic, “maintain essential hepatitis services”
World Hepatitis Day, is an occasion to call on people and governments across the world to take action and raise awareness to find