World Hepatitis Day is commemorated each year on 28 July to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes a range of health problems, including liver cancer.
There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, viral hepatitis continues to claim thousands of lives every day.
This year’s theme is “ Hepatitis-free future, ” with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns.
The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus (HBV) and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus.
* 125 million people are living with viral hepatitis B and C.
* 347,143 deaths per year is caused by hepatitis B virus infection.
* 4% of people living with hepatitis B and 19% living with hepatitis C know their hepatitis status.
* 16% of children, globally, have access to the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine.
A hepatitis-free future is achievable with a united effort.
WHO is calling on all countries to work together to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The aim is to:
PREVENT infection among newborns. All newborns should be vaccinated against hepatitis B at birth, followed by at least 2 additional doses.
STOP TRANSMISSION from MOTHER to CHILD . All pregnant women should be routinely tested for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis and receive treatment if needed.
LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND . Everyone should have access to hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services, including people who inject drugs, people in prisons, migrants, and other highly-affected populations.
EXPAND access to testing and treatment. Timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis can prevent liver cancer and other severe liver diseases.
MAINTAIN essential hepatitis services during COVID-19. Prevention and care services for hepatitis – such as infant immunization, harm reduction services and continuous treatment of chronic hepatitis B – are essential even during the pandemic.
Each year focuses on a specific theme. The list of themes is as follows:
2011 : Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere. Know it. Confront it. Confront her.
2012 : It’s closer than you think.
2013 : More must be done to stop this silent killer.
2014 : Hepatitis: Think Again
2015 : Prevention of viral Hepatitis. Act now.
2016 : Know Hepatitis-Act now.
2017 : Eliminate Hepatities.
2018 : Test. Treat. Hepatitis.
2019 : Invest in eliminating hepatitis.
2020: Hepatitis Free future