World Hepatitis Day - ‘Find the Missing Millions’

World Hepatitis Day - ‘Find the Missing Millions’

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Highlights:
  • World Hepatitis Day is celebrated across the globe on 28th July every year
  • It aims to generate awareness about the huge global problem of viral hepatitis
  • Global efforts are ongoing to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030
World Hepatitis Day is being celebrated on 28th July every year. The date 28th July was chosen for celebrating World Hepatitis Day to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and developing a diagnostic test, as well as the first vaccine against the virus.
World Hepatitis Day - ‘Find the Missing Millions’

Organizations around the world use World Hepatitis Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, which affects millions of people worldwide. They also look at what needs to be done to strengthen efforts for early detection, treatment and prevention of the disease. The importance of World Hepatitis Day is underscored by the fact that it is one of the seven officially mandated global public health days observed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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World Hepatitis Day Theme for 2019

The 2019 World Hepatitis Day theme is based on the World Health Alliance's global campaign "Find the Missing Millions", which is a three-year awareness and advocacy campaign to address the barriers to diagnosis of viral hepatitis. The host country for the 2019 World Hepatitis Day is Pakistan and all the global events will be held in Islamabad on 27-28 July 2019.

Viral Hepatitis: Facts & Figures

  • Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide
  • 1.34 million deaths annually occur worldwide due to viral hepatitis
  • 2 out of 3 liver cancer deaths are due to viral hepatitis
  • 2.85 million people worldwide became newly infected in 2017
  • 325 million people worldwide are currently living with hepatitis B and C
  • 290 million people worldwide are unaware that they have viral hepatitis
  • 80 percent of people living with hepatitis lack testing, prevention and treatment
  • 40 million people are chronically infected with HBV in India
  • 6-12 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV)in India
  • 150,000 people die annually from viral hepatitis in India
  • USD 6 billion investment is required annually to achieve global elimination targets by 2030

World Hepatitis Day Celebrations around the Globe

World Hepatitis Day is celebrated with much fervor in almost all countries across the world. A snapshot of a few of these celebrations is presented below:
  • USA: Numerous events take place in the US on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day. For example, this year the Niagara Falls, one of the most famous and iconic landmarks in the world will be illuminated in "Green" - the awareness color for World Hepatitis Day
  • Canada: The Canadian Society for International Health will be organizing an Art Contest for federal inmates in all prisons across Canada on the theme "Finding the Missing Millions: Breaking Barriers to Diagnosis"
  • Australia: Hepatitis SA, a non-profit, community-based organization in Hackney, Southern Australia, is celebrating World Hepatitis Day by creating awareness through educational activities and providing free testing for hepatitis B and C
  • Pakistan: An event is being organized at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Clinic in Karachi to raise awareness about viral hepatitis. The event will have an awareness session, performances by youth groups, as well as free community screening
  • Nigeria: The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria is holding a free hepatitis B screening camp for underprivileged orphanage children in Rumuokoro, a town in the Rivers State of Nigeria
  • Mexico: The Mexican Foundation for Liver Health (FundHepa), which is a non-profit organization, based in Mexico City, focuses on detection, treatment and prevention of liver diseases. FundHepa will conduct free testing for hepatitis C on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day
  • Colombia: The University of Antioquia in Medellin, Antioquia, is organizing a population education program for the prevention of hepatitis virus infection on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day
  • Cameroon: SOS Hepatitis, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), is organizing awareness programs in the city of Douala to inform the population about the dangers of hepatitis and provide them free counseling and free screening for hepatitis B and C

World Hepatitis Day Celebrations in India

World Hepatitis Day is avidly celebrated in India through numerous events and activities. A snapshot of the events taking place nationwide is given below:
  • New Delhi: The capital will host several events on World Hepatitis Day. For example, the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in Vasant Kunj is launching the EMPATHY (Empowering People Against Hepatitis) Campaign to raise awareness about hepatitis. Rann Foundation in Najafgarh will be organizing awareness programs for school children and community dwellers under its 'NOhep Delhi' Project to increase health consciousness about the dangers of hepatitis and encourage screening for hepatitis B and C. The International Institute for Human Development (IIHD) in Dwarka will be conducting a community based awareness and sensitization program on prevention of hepatitis C to encourage people to undergo hepatitis screening
  • Kolkata: Healthetc, an initiative of the Daffodil Healthcare Group will be organizing a walkathon and free screening camp for hepatitis B and C, where specialist doctors will be available for free consultation
  • Chandigarh: GI Rendezvous, a non-profit NGO based in Chandigarh, has been commemorating World Hepatitis Day for the last 3 years. This year it will be collectively celebrated by the Chandigarh Marathon Group, My FM and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, through various events and activities
  • Hyderabad: Save the Liver Foundation, a non-profit organization, will be observing World Hepatitis Day by organizing various awareness events and free consultations with gastroenterologists. It will also conduct free screening camps for hepatitis B and C
  • Puducherry: The All India Radio (Puducherry) will be broadcasting talk shows and airing messages on the topic of viral hepatitis on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day. Dr. Johnson Cherian from the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences will be talking about the disease burden, prevention, testing, and treatment, as well as about finding the "missing millions"

Elimination of Viral Hepatitis by 2030 is an Achievable Goal

Some of the major steps being taken to eliminate viral hepatitis from the planet include the following:
  • Global Hepatitis Elimination Strategy: The WHO's Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3), was ratified by the World Health Assembly in 2016. The WHO's viral hepatitis elimination goals include a global reduction of incidence by 90 percent and mortality by 65 percent by 2030. The WHO estimates that USD 6 billion needs to be invested annually between 2016 and 2030, to achieve the elimination goals. Importantly, eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030 will prevent 36 million infections and save 10 million lives
  • Screening: Getting people screened for HBV and HCV is very important for the elimination of the disease. Viral hepatitis elimination targets require that 30 percent of all infected people must be diagnosed by 2020 and 90 percent by 2030
  • Treatment: Improvements in treatment coverage is urgently needed as it is very low. For example, in 2015, only 8 percent of those diagnosed with hepatitis B and 7.4 percent of those diagnosed with hepatitis C received treatment
  • Vaccination: Hepatitis B can be successfully prevented by vaccination. Sustained global vaccination campaigns are very important so that every baby receives the hepatitis B vaccine. It is encouraging to note that vaccination programs delivering 3 doses of the hepatitis B vaccine during the first year of birth, have achieved 84 percent vaccination coverage, which is very near to the 2030 target of 90 percent coverage
  • Surveillance: Epidemiological surveillance is crucial for assessing the progress of vaccination programs. Therefore, continuous surveillance of hepatitis B burden, especially among children, will give an idea of the impact of vaccination, which will help to fine-tune the elimination strategies based to the data generated
  • Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission: It is crucial to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HBV by vaccination, in order to completely eliminate the virus. However, in 2015, only 39 percent of babies received the vaccine within 24 hours of birth, compared to the 2030 target of 90 percent
  • Blood Safety Practices: These are very important as both HBV and HCV can be transmitted through blood. The WHO's aim is 100 percent coverage of blood screening and total elimination of unsafe injection practices (0%). It is heartening to note that 98 percent of all blood donations are being screened and injections using re-usable syringes has reduced to 8 percent, globally
From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that with concerted global efforts, it is plausible that viral hepatitis can be eliminated by 2030.

So, on World Hepatitis Day, let us call on people from across the globe to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and take affirmative action to "Find the Missing Millions" so that no one is left behind in the collective endeavor to make the world free of this deadly disease.

References :
  1. World Hepatitis Day: Sunday 28 July 2019 - World Hepatitis Alliance - (http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/)
  2. Seven Steps to Hepatitis Elimination - World Health Organization - (https://www.who.int/hepatitis/news-events/7-steps-to-hepatitis-elimination/en/)
  3. World Hepatitis Day 2019: Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis - World Health Organization - (https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-hepatitis-day/2019)
  4. Hepatitis in India - World Health Organization - (http://www.searo.who.int/india/topics/hepatitis/en/)
  5. What is Viral Hepatitis? - World Hepatitis Alliance - (http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/what-viral-hepatitis-0)


Source: Medindia

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