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World Hepatitis Day: WHO urges bolder commitment, resources for 2030 elimination target
Marking this year’s annual World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, the World Health Organization has called for increased financing for hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment, and care services in the context of universal health coverage (UHC).
The theme, “Invest in eliminating hepatitis” highlights new research indicating that about $6 billion in investments is required annually to resource the health sector to achieve global elimination targets by 2030.
Today, more than 325 million people live with viral hepatitis B and C, with an estimated 2.8 million people infected in 2018 alone. Most people living with hepatitis lack prevention, testing and treatment.
Hepatitis is preventable, treatable and in the case of hepatitis C, curable. Yet, it remains the second major infectious disease killer after tuberculosis.
Q: What is Hepatitis?
A: Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D, E. Types B and C have led to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer. Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids. Hepatitis D only occurs in those who have Hepatitis B.
Q: How is Hepatitis transmitted?
A: Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment, and contaminated food sources. Hepatitis B can be passed from a mother to baby at birth and also during sexual contact.
Q: What are the symptoms of Hepatitis?
A: Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms.
Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Q: How can it be avoided?
- Hepatitis Vaccination
- Maintain healthy handwashing and cooking practices
- Drink safe water (boil water before drinking when uncertain of its safety)
- Only use new and sterile health supplies
- Ensure safety of tattoo, piercing equipment
Q: Can it be cured?
A: Hepatitis A and C are curable.
Hepatitis B is preventable with vaccine.
Hepatitis D only occurs in people who have Hepatitis B, and therefore can be prevented with HepB vaccine.
Hepatitis E infection usually causes a short-term illness goes away by itself in a few weeks.