Published: Sun, July 29, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

NY launching $5M effort to eliminate hepatitis C

NY launching $5M effort to eliminate hepatitis C

World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that in 2015, viral hepatitis was responsible for 1.34 million deaths per year. The World Health Organization estimates 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B or chronic hepatitis C. Viral hepatitis causes more than one million deaths per year, a number comparable to deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV combined. While treatments have existed for hepatitis B for some time, Directly-acting antiviral drugs can now cure hepatitis C in up to 95 per cent of cases.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said in a statement: "We have a clear vision for elimination, and we have the tools to do it".

They made the call in separate messages on the eve of the World Hepatitis Day 2018 to be observed in the country tomorrow as elsewhere in the world aiming at enhancing awareness about the deadly virus.

To achieve these outcomes and eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, as envisaged in WHO's Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, greater awareness among high-risk groups and the general public is key. However, the liver is one of the few organs in the human body that has regenerative properties which means it takes years before the symptoms show up and that is why it often goes undetected unless you get it checked.

Southeast Asia alone reports 49 million cases annually of hepatitis, demonstrating that this is not a disease exclusively impacting people on the other side of the world, but within our own borders. The condition can be self-limiting or may progress to diseases such as cirrhosis fibrosis etc. Hepatitis viruses are the most common causes of hepatitis over the world. Hence in 2008, World Hepatitis Alliance along with numerous patient groups declared May 19 as Hepatitis Day. The treatment of Hepatitis B and C could be possible in Bangladesh but the problem lies with the fact that the latest drugs are not available.

Over 10% of Mongolia's 3 million people are living with chronic hepatitis infection.

For both Hepatitis B and C, treatment is most effective if initiated at an early stage. Javaid Usman, Prof. Ayesha Junaid and Usman Waheed on screening for hepatitis, nucleic acid testing and blood screening guidelines and algorithms. It used the services of Amitabh Bachchan in its campaign, introduced vaccination in the infant immunisation program towards the beginning of this decade, and has very cleverly introduced Hepatitis B screening in the antenatal check up; this is crucial as the cycle of infection uses the mother-infant route.

Approximately 70%-80% of people with acute Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. In 2016 the theme was "Know Hepatitis- Act Now" and in 2017; "Eliminate Hepatitis".

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