As the World weekend marked this year’s World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organization, WHO has disclosed that, estimated 325 million people worldwide have viral hepatitis even as the 257 million people living with hepatitis B and 71 million people living with hepatitis C have no access to treatment. In a WHO new Data Published to mark the Day, WHO regretted that patients have no access to treatment for the two main killers of the five types of hepatitis, explained that lack of access to testing and treatment for hepatitis placed people at a great risk of chronic liver disease, cancer, and even death. The report also disclosed that viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths in 2015 – a figure close to the number of TB deaths and exceeding deaths linked to HIV. The report tagged “2017 Global Hepatitis Report” showed that only 9 percent of all hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections were diagnosed in 2015 and merely 8 percent and 7 per cent of those diagnosed with HBV and HCV, respectively, started curative treatment in 2015. Reacting, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who noted that viral hepatitis has been identified as a major public health challenge that requires an urgent response called on countries to scale up efforts to eliminate it. Ghebreyesus, who noted that data from 28 countries – representing approximately 70 percent of the global hepatitis burden – indicate that efforts to eliminate hepatitis are gaining momentum? The data, according to the report revealed that nearly all 28 countries have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees more than half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis responses. He said WHO is calling on countries to continue to translate their commitments into increased services to eliminate hepatitis. “This week, WHO has also added a new generic treatment to its list of WHO-prequalified hepatitis C medicines to increase access to therapy, and is promoting prevention through injection safety, a key factor in reducing hepatitis B and C transmission.” “It is encouraging to see countries turning commitment into action to tackle hepatitis. Identifying interventions that have a high impact is a key step towards eliminating this devastating disease. Many countries have succeeded in scaling-up the hepatitis B vaccination. Now we need to push harder to increase access to diagnosis and treatment.” WHO’s Director of the HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme, Dr Gottfried Hirnschall said “The national response towards hepatitis elimination is gaining momentum. However, at best one in ten people who are living with hepatitis know they are infected and can access treatment. This is unacceptable,” said, “For hepatitis elimination to become a reality, countries need to accelerate their efforts and increase investments in life-saving care. There is simply no reason why many millions of people still have not been tested for hepatitis and cannot access the treatment for which they are in dire need.” To improve injection safety and infection prevention to reduce new cases of hepatitis B and C, WHO said use of contaminated injection equipment in health-care settings accounts for a large number of new HCV and HBV infections worldwide, making injection safety an important strategy.

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