Saturday, July 28 marks World Hepatitis Day 2018, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of the disease and focus on how it can be treated, and eliminated

World Hepatitis Day 2018: WHO and WHA are Observing World Hepatitis Day on Saturday

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Saturday, July 28 marks World Hepatitis Day 2018, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of the disease and focus on how it can be treated, and eliminated.

All member states, including Bangladesh, are conducting different hepatitis awareness events on the occasion, the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh said in a statement.

The campaign hopes to eliminate hepatitis or bring viral hepatitis under control by 2030.

An estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus infection, and in 2015, hepatitis B resulted in 887,000 deaths. An estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection, with approximately 399,000 people dying each year from the condition.

Currently, 325 million men, women, and children across the world are living with viral hepatitis. According to the statement, approximately 300 million are unaware that they have the disease.

This huge undiagnosed population is at high risk of developing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and are silently transmitting and infecting others in various ways. Around 1.34 million deaths occur every year due to viral hepatitis.

“Worldwide, 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware,” the UN said.

“Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, Jul 28, we call on people from across the world to take action, raise awareness and join in the quest to find the ‘missing millions’.”

The WHA is launching the three-year “Find the Missing Millions” global awareness-raising advocacy campaign to identify this population, which will minimize the disease burden and contribute to the 2030 elimination target while saving an estimated 7.1 million lives.

In Bangladesh, different studies have shown that about 4 to 5 percent of the population has hepatitis B and about 1 percent have hepatitis C.  It is estimated that around 10 million people in Bangladesh have been affected by the viruses.

The NLFB conducted a phase of the “Find the Missing Millions Campaign” campaign at Rangamati Government College and other places in Rangamati on Jul 15, conducting free hepatitis B and C screenings among 810 people of the Chakma tribe.

It was alarming as most of the people screened did not know about viral hepatitis, the NLFB said in its statement. Hepatitis B was detected in 40 (4.93 percent) of the screened people and hepatitis C was found in 2 (less than 0.24 percent) of the screening group.

NLFB will also conduct free hepatitis B & C screening in its office on World Hepatitis Day along with several other awareness-building activities.

# With less than 5 percent of people who are infected with hepatitis virus aware that they are infected, here we round up ten facts about hepatitis to help keep you informed.

  1. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, substances such as alcohol and certain drugs, and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
  2. There are 5 main types of hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. They can all cause liver disease, however, they can be transmitted in different ways.
  3. Types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
  4. Hepatitis B and C are most commonly spread through unprotected sex, drug injection, and unsafe medical practices.
  5. The symptoms of Hepatitis B and C may not show for a long period of time, sometimes years or decades, with at least 60 percent of liver cancer cases due to the late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C.
  6. Symptoms for those with acute hepatitis B may last several weeks if they do appear, and include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
  7. Following initial infection of hepatitis C, approximately 80 percent of people do not exhibit any symptoms. Those who do show symptoms may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored feces, joint pain, and jaundice.
  8. An estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus infection, and in 2015, hepatitis B resulted in 887,000 deaths. An estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection, with approximately 399,000 people dying each year from the condition.
  9. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B which is 95 percent effective in preventing infection and the development of chronic disease and liver cancer.
  10. Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 percent of those infected within two to three months, reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis. However, hepatitis C does not always require treatment as the immune response in some people will clear the infection, and some people with chronic infection do not develop liver damage.