Every year on July 28th, World Hepatitis Day is observed to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, its causes, implications, and potential solutions. This day provides an opportunity for individuals, communities, and governments around the world to come together and take action to eradicate this silent killer. The World Health Organization has been at the forefront of the global effort to tackle hepatitis by setting targets for member countries to achieve in terms of hepatitis prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases that primarily affect the liver, categorized into hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Each type is caused by a different virus and has distinct modes of transmission. Hepatitis B and C are the most common and deadly due to their chronic nature and potential to cause long-term liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. This disease is easily transmitted through contaminated food, water, unprotected sex, from child to mother through childbirth, unscreened blood transfusion, sterilized needles and syringes, and environments lacking proper sanitation. Although this disease can be avoided through vaccination and antiviral medications, Hepatitis C currently possesses no curable means and inadequate treatment of Hepatitis B can result in Hepatitis D.
Viral hepatitis is a global health concern with far-reaching implications stressing from public health burden which affects millions of people worldwide, causing approximately 1.34 million deaths annually to chronic liver disease caused by chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, significantly impacting an individual’s quality of life and potentially requiring liver transplantation. Economic Impact is another strain, it places a considerable economic burden on healthcare systems, with costs related to treatment, hospitalization, and lost productivity and development in other national sectors. The stigmatization and discrimination Individuals with hepatitis can face include social stigma, job loss, fertility issues, and depression making it challenging for them to seek medical help and support.
The fight against viral hepatitis requires a comprehensive and proactive approach that can be achieved through the provision of vaccination, particularly hepatitis B as a preventive measure and ensuring universal access awareness about hygiene practices. Regular screening and diagnosis for hepatitis B and C can help identify infections early, enabling timely treatment and preventing its progression to liver disease. Improved treatment, care, and access to antiviral medications and treatment for chronic hepatitis can prevent complications and reduce the risk of liver cancer.
World Hepatitis Day serves as a reminder that hepatitis is a global health challenge that requires collective action from individuals, communities, and governments worldwide. By increasing awareness, promoting prevention measures, ensuring access to vaccination and treatment, and garnering support from world leaders, we can strive to eradicate hepatitis and create a healthier future for all. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against this silent killer.