Every year, on July 28, World Hepatitis Day (WHD) is observed across the world with the aim of raising awareness of the universal issue of viral hepatitis and to effect real change. ‘Hepatitis can’t wait’ is the theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day.
The reason to observe World Hepatitis Day on 28 July is that it is the birthday of Dr Baruch Blumberg, a Nobel-winning scientist, who not only discovered hepatitis B virus but also developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus.
Every year, a whopping 1,100,000 people die of Hepatitis B and C infections, whereas as many as 9,400,000 people are being treated for chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Across the world, 42pc of children have access to birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. As per the WHO, at least one person dies of hepatitis-related disease every 30 seconds. In Pakistan, there are nearly 15 million people infected with either hepatitis B or C, while at least 150,000 new cases are reported every day. Hazardous medical practices and a poor system of sewage disposal and cleanliness are blamed for the spread of the disease in the country.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It’s caused by various transmissible viruses and noninfectious agents resulting in a slew of health issues, some of which can be life-threatening. There are five key strains of the hepatitis virus, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. While they all cause liver ailment, they vary in significant ways including modes of transmission, intensity of the disease, geographical distribution and prevention methods. According to research, more than 300 million people globally live with hepatitis B or C, but most of them are unable to afford the expensive testing and treatment of the disease.
Vaccination Helps Prevent Hepatitis
Vaccination helps prevent some types of hepatitis. A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that a projected 5mn early deaths could be prevented in many poor countries by 2030 through vaccination. WHO’s universal hepatitis plan, recognized by all WHO Member States, seeks to decrease new hepatitis infections by 90pc and deaths by 65pc in 14 years.
Several people with hepatitis A, B, C, D or E display only minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. Each form of the virus, though, can cause more intense symptoms including fever, sickness, loss of hunger, diarrhea, nausea, stomach discomfort, dark-colored urine and jaundice.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be prevented by safe and effective vaccines. These also avert the progress of hepatitis D virus (HDV) and given at birth sturdily decreases transmission risk from mother to child. Chronic hepatitis B contagion can be treated with antiviral agents. Treatment can slow the development of cirrhosis of the liver, decrease occurrence of liver cancer and improve long-term survival. A vaccine is also available, though not widely, to avoid infections of hepatitis E (HEV). There are no precise treatments for HBV and HEV and hospitalization is not typically essential. It is directed to avoid needless medications due to the adverse outcome on liver function caused by these infections.
Hepatitis C (HCV) can cause both severe and chronic infection. Some people recuperate themselves, while others develop a fatal infection or further difficulties, including cirrhosis or cancer. No vaccine exists for hepatitis C. More than 95pc of persons with hepatitis C infection can be cured by antiviral medicines, thus plummeting the risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer, but access to diagnosis and treatment remains low.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is most common in many developing countries thanks to minimized access to clean and dependable water sources and the heightened risk of contaminated food. A safe and effective vaccine is on hand to prevent hepatitis A. Most HAV infections are minor, with most of the people recuperating fully and developing immunity to advance infection. Nevertheless, these infections can also seldom be severe and fatal due to the risk of liver failure.