WHO Emphasises Need For Increase In Hepatitis Testing, Treatment

Posted July 29, 2018

World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year with an aim to raise awareness of viral hepatitis. Left untreated, these infections lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis, which together caused more than 1.3 million deaths in 2015 alone.

Hepatitis is a term used to describe the inflammation of the liver as a result of viral infection or exposure to harmful or toxic substances such as drugs or alcohol.

He said the global effort led by the World Health Organisation was supported by all member states, while Pakistan was also a signatory to worldwide commitments made in the UN General Assembly in 2015 which adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called on the global community to eliminate hepatitis.

Prof Saeed Hamid, who is the former president of the PSSLD, claimed that Hepatitis B and C were killing more people than combined deaths by Tuberculosis (TB), dengue fever, Malaria and HIV/AIDS in Pakistan, saying fortunately, majority of deaths due to Hepatitis B and C were preventable and 100 percent curable.

Medical experts specializing in the field of Hepatitis treatment and liver diseases were on the spot to answer the queries of the visitors. Most of the times, people ignore the symptoms and receive treatment in the later stages of the infection.

The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is a blood test, called a hepatitis C antibody test.

Screening for HCV among blood donors has reduced the risk of acquiring HCV from blood products by half to two thirds.

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According to the 2017 report shared by WHO, India has 40 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and approximately 12 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C. However, "over 95% of people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected and therefore, succumb to liver cirrhosis or cancer", said Subhash Gupta, Chairman, from the Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket.

NLFB will also conduct free hepatitis B & C screening in its office on World Hepatitis Day along with several other awareness building activities. The guidelines enable major simplifications in the delivery of curative therapy to the 70 million people living with chronic hepatitis C in the world.

There are multiple groups who are at risk for Hepatitis C. It can spread through the skin and blood or it can spread through sexual contact.

"As someone who has been cured of Hepatitis C, I want to encourage everyone to go out and get tested", said Jackie Johnson, an Amida Care member and Bronx resident.

Timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C can save lives.

But the disease is curable in 90 percent of cases, if only health workers can detect it and get the patient to treatment. "Increased injection safety in health facilities is likewise critical", Singh said.

Finally, India is witnessing a reduction in prevalence rates of Hepatitis B. The rates for Hepatitis C are still high, though largely due to increase in IVDU in northern and eastern states.

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