This year, for World Hepatitis Day (WHD) which falls on 28th July, a three-year global awareness-raising and advocacy campaign “Find the Missing Millions”, will be launched. According to the World Hepatitis Organisation ‘out of the 325 million people living with viral hepatitis globally, upward of 290 million (that’s 9 in 10!) are living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C without knowing.’ The point of the three-year campaign is to create a massive scale-up in screening, diagnosis and linkage to care.
About 60% or more of liver cancer cases are as a result of late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C, owing to low coverage of testing and treatment. This is the most important gap that WHD 2018 hopes to address to help achieve global elimination goals by 2030.
Viral hepatitis B and C are chronic infections that may not show symptoms for a long period, sometimes years or decades and are considered as root causes of liver cancer, which leads to 1.34 million deaths every year. It is recognized as one of the biggest global health threats of our times.
What is viral hepatitis?
It is an inflammation of the liver and it can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis or liver cancer. There are five main hepatitis viruses, types A, B, C, D and E. Types B and C are the most common causes of liver cirrhosis and cancer while all the types cause illness and death along with possibility of epidemic spread. Hepatitis A and E are usually caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water while B, C and D occur usually through parenteral contact with infected bodily fluids.
This year for WHD the WHO will focus on the theme of ‘Test. Treat. Hepatitis’, with events and activities focussing on the below objectives:
- To support scale-up of hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care services, with specific focus on promoting WHO testing and treatment recommendations;
- To showcase best practices and promote universal health coverage of hepatitis services; and
- To improve partnerships and funding in the fight against viral hepatitis
If you are travelling to a high-risk area there are a few precautionary measures you can take to keep safe.
- Choose a reputable medical facility or hospital if you need medical care while abroad
- Avoid sharing razor blades and opt for a new one instead if you are not travelling with your own
- Avoid getting new piercings or tattoos while travelling
- Try and prevent any injuries and if you do get injured take immediate action to clean the area and keep the injury free from contamination.
- Always practice safe sex and use a quality condom
- Get the hepatitis B vaccination which is a routine immunization
Contact us at Western Hospital and make use of our dedicated clinic for travel vaccines in Sri Lanka. We have the latest up to date vaccines, administered by professional care givers.