Published: Sun, July 29, 2018
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Hepatitis - a global health concern

Hepatitis - a global health concern

Every year on 28 July, the world comes together to commemorate World Hepatitis Day (WHD).

The minister of health, Prof Isaac Adewole, had said that viral hepatitis was the seventh leading cause of deaths globally, adding that the disease was a silent killer and responsible for about 1.44 million deaths annually. Around four million people in South Africa are chronically infected with hepatitis B and C. City Health's drive in marking World Hepatitis Day is to encourage testing and to ensure a healthy lifestyle, which includes good personal and environmental hygiene. It is spread through the blood of a person who already has hepatitis C. The number of confirmed cases of hepatitis C reported in Eau Claire County increased from 37 in 2016 to 39 in 2017.

As fighting Hepatitis C is a big challenge for the country, a recent change in the treatment of oral medications has revolutionised the treatment response to the diseases.

Approximately 399,000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, and there is now no vaccine for hepatitis C, however, research in this area is ongoing.

Around 200,000 people in the United Kingdom are thought to be living with chronic HCV, yet challenges in awareness remain a barrier to timely diagnosis and treatment. As per WHA, 300 million people are living with hepatitis completely unaware of the same. Hepatitis is a condition relating to inflammation of the liver and is commonly caused due to a viral infection.

Viral hepatitis causes about 1.34 million deaths each year.

Screening for HCV among blood donors has reduced the risk of acquiring HCV from blood products by half to two thirds.

Asserting that access to effective and affordable treatment is vital for individuals who test positive for hepatitis B or C, she said, "While treatment for hepatitis B have existed for some time, directly-acting antiviral drugs can now cure hepatitis C in up to 95 percent of cases". WHO and the Government of Mongolia will hold a series of events in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to commemorate the World Hepatitis Day 2018. If undiagnosed or untreated, it may lead to progressive scarring, known as fibrosis, and risks of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

To prevent a hepatitis infection, you should become extra conscious of your surroundings and their hygiene. It is spread through blood-to-blood contact.

Singh said health authorities in the region should deploy clear messaging tactics regarding signs and symptoms of hepatitis so that people can get tested and seek treatment and also how its spread can be prevented.

People who are at most risk are those working in health care professions, people with multiple sexual partners, intravenous drug users and haemophiliacs.

He affirmed that the plan that is provided by the Ministry of Health and WHO will make Egypt free of Hepatitis C in three to five years and will reach global rates in the prevalence rates of the virus.

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