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World Hepatitis Day 2019: Theme, Significance And Goals

World Hepatitis Day is celebrated every year on July 28 across the globe with only one intention- to create awareness and eradicate the silent killer called viral hepatitis. It is a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E that can cause both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) liver diseases.

A WHO (World Health Organisation) report mentioned that worldwide 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis, out of which 257 millions are suffering from hepatitis B and 71 millions are affected by hepatitis C.

Theme Of World Hepatitis Day

This World Hepatitis Day, World Health Assembly (WHA), world's highest health policy setting body, has come up with the unified theme of "find the missing millions". Their mission is focused on finding the undiagnosed and untreated cases of hepatitis across the globe. They have called on people and countries around the world to join them in this endeavour of making the world hepatitis-free.

Significance Of World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis takes about 1.4 million lives each year, being the second major infectious disease after tuberculosis. Studies also mention that 9 times more people are affected with hepatitis than HIV. The death rates have been gradually increasing in the last two decades. WHO takes this opportunity of World Hepatitis Day to spread awareness about this lethal disease. They urge the governments and non-governmental organisations to work hand in hand against this alarming trend. They are encouraged to create awareness campaign, as well as planning and adopting proper strategies.

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How To Make The Mission Possible

Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccines, whereas after being diagnosed, it can be kept under control with lifelong treatment. On the other hand, hepatitis C can be cured with a treatment lasting up to 2-3 months.

The worrying fact is, over 80% of the people living with hepatitis do not have access to testing or treatment. WHO is prompting all countries to "invest in eliminating hepatitis" through costing, budgeting and financing of elimination services within their universal health coverage plans.

While 124 out of 194 WHO member countries have already adopted this elimination strategy, there is still a long way to go. In order to provide care for the patients living unaware of their condition, more countries need to dedicate a part of their budget lines towards hepatitis control.

Nevertheless, prices of medicines and tests can be a burden on many countries. So developing countries have been advised to seek most optimal prices for the medicines and diagnostics. This will bring the life-saving hepatitis drugs within the reach of commoners. Countries should work with their global counterparts to achieve this goal.

Over 95% of deaths caused by hepatitis occur from chronic hepatitis B and C infections. South America, Africa, eastern Europe and Asia possess the highest risk of hepatitis B, whereas eastern Mediterranean region and European region are mostly affected by hepatitis C. These two types might not show symptoms for a long period, sometimes even for decades or years. However, the good news is, with some serious planning, improved infrastructure and awareness, we can deal with the potential danger of viral hepatitis in a better way.

Read more about: hepatitis disease
Story first published: Saturday, July 27, 2019, 21:00 [IST]
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