On the occasion of the World Hepatitis Day (WHD), 28 July 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasized the need for countries to improve the preventive measures of viral hepatitis infection.
In a press release statement, the WHO stated that it is focusing on hepatitis B and C, which are responsible for around 80 percent of liver cancer deaths and leads to 1.4 million people death over each year. In order to curb the increasing cases of the viral infection, the WHO states that people should know their risks, demand safe injections, get vaccinated and tested and should seek proper treatment.
WHO is making people attentive to the risks of contracting hepatitis from unsafe blood, injections and sharing drug-injection equipment. Around 11 million people who inject drugs have hepatitis B or C infection. And, children born to mothers affected with hepatitis B or C and sex partners of people with hepatitis are also at increased risk of getting affected.
WHO highlights the need for all health services to minimize risks with the help of sterile equipment for injections and other medical processes, to test the donated blood and blood components for hepatitis B and C and to advance the use of the hepatitis B vaccine.
Safe sex practices, including reducing the number of partners and adopting protective measures such as condoms also protect against transmission. As per the WHO, around two million people per year contract hepatitis from unsafe injections. These infections can be prevented through the sterile syringes that are exclusively designed to prevent reuse. The WHO also specified that eliminating unnecessary injections is also a good strategy to protect against hepatitis transmission.
WHO underlines vaccinating children against hepatitis B infection would be the better option. A safe and effective vaccine can protect against hepatitis B infection for life. Generally, the vaccine should be given at the earliest possible after birth, most preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the vaccine series. WHO also recommends vaccinating certain adults such as those who require blood or blood products, healthcare workers, addicted to drugs, sexual partners of people suffering from chronic hepatitis B and people with more than one sexual partner.
Notably, in a number of countries vaccination has reduced the rate of chronic infection to less than 1 in 100 among immunized children. Till today, there is no available vaccine against hepatitis C. However, medicines are available to cure most people with hepatitis C and controls hepatitis B infection.
Apparently, people who receive these medicines are less likely to die from liver cancer and cirrhosis.
The WHO underlined that around 40 million Indians live with the chronic hepatitis B infection and states that India needs better detection and prevention facilities. A study conducted by the SRL Laboratories showed that 20% of the 11.6 lakh Indians tested for viral hepatitis between 2012 and 2014 and found positive for Hepatitis B.
The main objective of World Hepatitis Day is to encourage people on how to prevent, diagnose and treat viral hepatitis infections. The motto is to Prevent Hepatitis. Act now.