Action Needed to Find, Test, Treat Millions Infected With Hepatitis

The body said this ahead of the World Hepatitis Day (WHD) on 28, July. India is among the 11 countries carrying almost 50 per cent of the global burden of chronic hepatitis.

The minister said viral hepatitis (Hepatitis B and C) remained a major challenge affecting approximately 325 million people globally.

Terming the day's theme of this year "Find the Missing Millions" is time-befitting, the President and the Prime Minister said the observance of the day would play a vital role in attaining targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by eliminating the viruses within 2030.

He shared that within Pakistan nearly 12 million people are suffering from Hepatitis B or C. Each year brings about 150,000 new cases. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected.

They are root causes of liver cancer, leading to 1.34 million deaths every year.

Hepatitis is a liver disease or infection generally characterised by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissues of liver.

As with HBV, HCV is spread through direct exposure to blood or bodily fluids. Hepatitis B also spreads through unsafe sexual acts. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

" Viral Hepatitis is a silent epidemic and the most important reason for this is lack of awareness".

The public could help prevent the spread of the hepatitis A virus by always washing hands after using the toilet and ensuring that fruit and vegetables were washed with clean water before eating. At the end of 2015, an estimated 14 million people were living with chronic hepatitis C infection and 115 million with chronic hepatitis B infection. Urban people are found to have a higher prevalence of Hepatitis B of 5.4 per cent compared with 3.8 per cent among their rural counterparts. Many people often do not identify the disease since there are no strong or obvious symptoms. These symptoms should never be ignored.

During the day long proceedings, visitors were screened for hepatitis C, received hepatitis B vaccination and went through ultrasound of the abdomen to ascertain the possibility for any liver disease. Babies should get a first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth. There are certain pockets where there is a higher density of the Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B. The high risk individuals are those who receive the multiple transfusions, those who have been incarcerated and those who have history of high risk behaviour in the past. Together, hepatitis B and C causes two in every three liver cancer deaths across the world.

Tumursukh Chagnaa was diagnosed with hepatitis B in 2017, but the virus had already led to cirrhosis of the liver.

John Jabbour, WHO's representative in Egypt, said that the WHO is working on detecting Hepatitis C in Egypt and providing necessary treatment to people in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. Nearly 60% of liver cancer cases arise out of late detection and treatment of the infection.

  • Aubrey Nash