Julio 21, 2018

Ahead of World Day, UN agency says fight against hepatitis 'gaining momentum'

28 Julio 2017, 08:09 | Faron Santos

Globally more than 240 million people are affected with chronic liver infection caused by Hepatitis

Globally more than 240 million people are affected with chronic liver infection caused by Hepatitis

She stressed that to overcome these barriers and eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, as per regional and global targets, "enhanced awareness and understanding of how to prevent, treat and manage the disease is vital". The Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cause 80% of liver cancer cases in the world.

World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year to create an awareness about the infectious disease among people. However, it is most often caused by a virus. "Most of the cases we see are from other States or Middle East countries", informs Dr Chandan Kumar, senior consultant hepatologist and liver transplant physician, Gleneagles Global Healthy City, Chennai. There are five main hepatitis viruses - A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis may also be caused by alcohol use, autoimmune diseases and certain medications.

If you are a hepatitis B carrier and interested in helping find a cure, please call the Hepatitis B Virus Eradication and Loss (HEAL) cohort study on 6772-4447. If treatment is not initiated on time, the virus can damage the liver.

According to WHO, Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. "For HEV and HAV infections hygiene and sanitation practices play major roles, while for HBV and HCV, lifestyle and awareness are very important".

World Health Organization recommends the mandatory screening of all blood donations for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and syphilis according to the quality system requirements. Children born to mothers with Hepatitis-B should be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth, as this can prevent an infection that is likely to progress to chronic Hepatitis-B.

People become infected with Hepatitis B by receiving unsafe blood, typically through a blood transfusion. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common.

Prevention: Hepatitis D only occurs in people who are already infected with the Hepatitis B virus. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease.

Transmission: Like hepatitis A, Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis?

Those who are acutely symptomatic show fever, fatigue, decreases appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and dark urine as the symptoms.

"There is treatment available at every stage of the infection", assures Mr. Murugan.

Jaundice - yellowing of the eyes - plus a swollen abdomen due to fluid accumulation and a feeling of severe tiredness are features of chronic liver disease. Recovery from symptoms following infection may take several weeks or even months. Hepatitis C patients now have free access to new oral medicines, thanks to work done by the National Technical Advisory Group of hepatitis experts, which has been instrumental in bringing down the cost of drugs for hepatitis C treatment to less than 1% of the cost paid in the USA.

Not all Hepatitis C infections need treatment, as the immune response of the body clears up the infection and some people with chronic infection don't develop liver damage.

It is one of the great opportunities to join together and raise the profile of viral hepatitis among the public and on the global health agenda.

New WHO data from 28 countries representing some 70 per cent of the global hepatitis burden reveals that almost all have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees and more than half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis responses.

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