World Hepatitis Day

Did you know last Saturday (28th July) marked World Hepatitis Day? So what is hepatitis? Hepatitis is a viral infection referring to the inflammatory condition of the liver. The liver is really important in carrying out vital functions in the body that affect metabolism, such as production of bile or filtration of toxins. Hepatitis can be fatal because when the liver can no longer functional properly it can lead to bleeding disorders, kidney failure or even death [1]

Although it is caused by a virus there are other possible causes such as certain medications and alcohol. There are five different types of viral hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E [1]

Hepatitis A – spread through contaminated food/ water

Hepatitis B – spread through bodily fluids such as blood or sharing razors

Hepatitis C – it is the most common blood-borne viral infection in the US

Hepatitis D – spread through direct contact with infected blood

Hepatitis E – it is a waterborne disease and found in places with inadequate sanitation

The disease develops slowly so symptoms such as loss of appetite and fatigue may be indistinct at first. [1]

The aim of world hepatitis day is to raise awareness of the 300 or so million people worldwide who are living with the viral hepatitis. That is nearly 4 and a half times the UK population. The problem here is that they are unaware which has a knock on effect. If these people are not given the appropriate care then this virus can spread rapidly from one person to another and continue to affect many more. By raising awareness, we will be helping so much by finding those ‘missing millions’. [2]

A few years ago, due to the lack of awareness and government intervention/ political commitment, the death toll had been continually rising – despite all the treatments and vaccines found. However, a lot has changed in the previous year. Meetings were held between the global hepatitis community to discuss ways of eliminating hepatitis and it was also recognised as being a global development priority. But this is not enough; the governments now want to fully eliminate viral hepatitis and the aim is to do it by 2030. [3]

A message from the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti : ‘I urge all Member States in the African Region to use the World Hepatitis Day campaign as a vital opportunity to step up national efforts on hepatitis and to spur action to implement the strategy on viral hepatitis. I appeal to the general public to seek information about viral hepatitis and services for prevention and treatment from the nearest health facility.’[3]

Around 1.3 million deaths are caused by hepatitis and it is also the cause of two in three liver cancer deaths per year. This makes hepatitis the seventh leading cause of death globally – that is bigger than HIV/AIDS and malaria. By ‘strengthening public awareness and prevention as well as ensuring that everyone living with viral hepatitis has access to safe, affordable and effective care and treatment services’ we can really come together and make a difference.[3] [2]

Remember prevention is better than cure!

(Please visit this website to see how you can get invo

lved: http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/)

By Kashaf I

Bibliography:

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis

[2] http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/

[3] http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WHD20201620Global20Summary20Report_11.pdf

[4] http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WHD20Summary20Report1.pdf

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