The 2015 edition of the world Hepatitis day will be celebrated on Tuesday July 28 under the theme: Prevent Hepatitis. This year, the World Health Organization is focusing particularly on hepatitis B and C, which together cause approximately 80% of all liver cancer deaths and kill close to 1.4 million people every year.
According to a press release published on the official website of WHO, This year’s, flagship event takes place in Egypt, a country that has one of the world’s highest hepatitis burdens. It is estimated that 10% of the population between 15 and 59 years is chronically infected with hepatitis C. Between 2007 and 2014, more than 350 000 people with hepatitis C have been treated. Today, 32 dedicated treatment centres are providing treatment at the Government’s expense. Egypt is also highlighting hepatitis prevention, and WHO is helping the country develop national blood safety standards and has selected it as one of 3 pilot countries for its new Global Injection Safety Initiative.
WHO highlights the urgent need for countries to enhance action to prevent viral hepatitis infection and to ensure that people who have been infected are diagnosed and offered treatment. The Organization is alerting people to the risks of contracting hepatitis from unsafe blood, unsafe injections, and sharing drug-injection equipment. Some 11 million people who inject drugs have hepatitis B or C infection. Children born to mothers with hepatitis B or C and sex partners of people with hepatitis are also at risk of becoming infected.
WHO also emphasizes the need for all health services to reduce risks by using only sterile equipment for injections and other medical procedures, to test all donated blood and blood components for hepatitis B and C (as well as HIV and syphilis) and to promote the use of the hepatitis B vaccine. Safer sex practices, including minimizing the number of partners and using barrier protective measures (condoms), also protect against transmission.
Earlier this year, WHO issued new guidelines for treatment of hepatitis B infection. These recommend using simple non-invasive tests to assess the stage of liver disease to help identify who needs treatment. WHO also calls for prioritizing treatment for those with cirrhosis – the most advanced stage of liver disease and for the use of two safe and highly effective medicines, TENOFOVIR or ENTECAVIR.
In September this year, countries will have the opportunity to share best practice at the first-ever World Hepatitis Summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. The summit, which is co-sponsored by WHO, the Scottish Government and the World Hepatitis Alliance, aims to raise the global profile of viral hepatitis, to create a platform for exchange of country experiences and to focus on working with countries to develop national action plans.