WHO: World Hepatitis Day 2013
24 July 2013
On World Hepatitis Day (28 July), WHO is urging governments to act against the five hepatitis viruses that can cause severe liver infections and lead to 1.4 million deaths every year. Some of these hepatitis viruses, most notably types B and C, can also lead to chronic and debilitating illnesses such as liver cancer and cirrhosis, and in addition to, loss of income and high medical expenses for hundreds of millions of people worldwide…
…“The fact that many hepatitis B and C infections are silent, causing no symptoms until there is severe damage to the liver, points to the urgent need for universal access to immunization, screening, diagnosis and antiviral therapy,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and the Environment.
“Many of the measures needed to prevent the spread of viral hepatitis disease can be put in place right now, and doing so will offset the heavy economic costs of treating and hospitalizing patients in future.”
This year, in the run up to World Hepatitis Day, the Organization is releasing its first-ever country hepatitis survey, covering 126 countries. The WHO “Global policy report on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in WHO Member States” identifies successes as well as gaps at country level in the implementation of four priority areas. The priority areas are raising awareness, evidence-based data for action, prevention of transmission, and screening, care and treatment.
The findings show that 37% of the countries have national strategies for viral hepatitis, and more work is needed in treating hepatitis. It also highlights that while most of the countries (82%) have established hepatitis surveillance programmes, only half of them include the monitoring of chronic hepatitis B and C, which are responsible for most severe illnesses and deaths…
World Hepatitis Day Statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh