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World Digestive Health Day

World Digestive Health Day

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  • World Digestive Health Day is observed annually on 29th May by the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO).
  • The main aim of the campaign is to raise public awareness on digestive diseases or disorders
  • This year the theme is “Viral Hepatitis, B and C: Lifting the Global Burden”

World Digestive Health Day is observed annually on 29th May by the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO). The main aim of the awareness day is to focus on a new digestive disorder every year, with the objective to raise public awareness of its causes, prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment.


World Digestive Health Day's theme this year is "Viral Hepatitis, B and C: Lifting the Global Burden"

The liver is a vital organ for metabolism and detoxification. Viral hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver due to viral infections.

Aim of the Campaign

The primary objective of the campaign is to:
  • Support and promote awareness of Viral Hepatitis, B, and C particularly its management, treatment and preventive measures, in countries where the viruses are being newly or increasingly diagnosed.
  • Educate physicians, pharmacists, health professionals and the public about the prevalence, risk factors, and causes of Viral Hepatitis, B, and C.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation or swelling of the liver. There are five types of hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E are of most significant concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. Types A and E are responsible for short-term or acute infection, whereas types B, C, and D cause long-term or chronic infection. Hepatitis B, C, and D lead to life-threatening complications such as liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and cancer.

Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) are important public health concerns. Transmission of the viruses occurs through blood and blood products, contaminated injections or sex. They can also pass from the mother to her newborn baby.

Facts and Statistics on Hepatitis B and C

  • Globally, over 257 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B
  • Nearly 600,000 people die world wide every year from hepatitis B and its complications, such as liver cancer
  • Hepatitis B related liver complications caused each year around 5,000 to 6,000 American deaths
  • About one in twenty Americans have been infected with the hepatitis B virus
  • According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.25 million Americans have already been infected with Hepatitis B virus, and more than 2 million Americans are chronically infected
  • Nearly 1.4 million people in the U.S. are carriers of the Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatitis C prevalence in Northern European countries, such as Great Britain, Germany, and France is low, but the rates are higher in Southeast Asian countries, including India, Malaysia, Philipines, and Japan
  • Nearly 3.9 million people in the U.S. are affected with Hepatitis C infection
  • In the UK, around 215,000 people have hepatitis C

Who are vulnerable to get Hepatitis B and C infections?

  • People between the ages of 20 and 49 are most prone to Hepatitis B infections.
  • Hepatitis B may end up with a chronic infection in five percent to ten percent of adults and children older than five years.
  • Hepatitis B affects nearly 25% to 50% in those younger than 5 and even higher (90%) for infants infected at birth.
  • Individual who has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Hepatitis C virus is a blood-borne virus. It is commonly transmitted through:
  • Sharing of injections among drug users
  • Reusing or using unsterilized of medical equipment, especially syringes and needles in healthcare settings
  • Direct contact or exposure to unscreened blood and blood products
  • People with HIV infection
  • People who have had tattoos or piercings

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis B and C?

  • Jaundice a condition where the skin or the whites of the eyes turn yellow as well as dark urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Fever
  • Fatigue that continues for weeks or months
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
Hepatitis B and C can spread by:
  • Direct exposure to infected blood or blood products
  • Having unsafe sex
  • Use of unsterile needles (IV drug use, tattoo/piercing needles)
  • Staying in a house with a person who is already infected with the disease
  • An infected mother can transmit the virus to her newborn baby during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Sharing razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers with an infected person
Steps to Prevent Hepatitis B and C Infections
  • Do not share needles. Intravenous drug users are at highest risk of becoming infected with hepatitis C because of many share needles.
  • If you are a medical worker or health care provider, take precautionary measures to avoid direct contact with blood or blood products. Any tool or equipment that draws blood should be discarded safely or appropriately sterilized to prevent hepatitis C infection.
  • Do not share personal care items which used on a daily basis such as toothbrushes, razors, nail and hair clippers, and scissors.
  • Be careful in choosing a tattoo and piercing parlors. Only a licensed tattoo and a piercing artist will follow proper sanitary procedures. A new disposable needle and inkwell should be used for each customer.
  • There is a higher risk of getting hepatitis C if a person has sexually transmitted disease (HIV).
Viral hepatitis can be prevented or treated with proper medication, dietary changes and lifestyle modifications.

References :
  1. Mark Your Calendars for World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) 2018 - (http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/about-wgo/media-center/media-releases/mark-your-calendards-for-world-digestive-health-day-2018)
  2. Hepatitis B Fast Facts - (http://www.hepb.org/assets/Uploads/Hepatitis-B-Fast-Facts.pdf)
  3. Hepatitis - (http://www.who.int/hepatitis/en/)
  4. Hepatitis C - Worldwide Prevalence - (http://www.epidemic.org/thefacts/theepidemic/worldPrevalence/)

Source: Medindia

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