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#WorldHepatitisDay2018: Test. Treat. Hepatitis
According to WHO statistics, there are around 1.5 million Hepatitis A,B and C infected people in Nepal
Among many battles that Nepal fights, the struggle against some diseases are long-standing and hard to deal with. But with the country’s relentless and successful efforts, it was able to completely get rid of its long-standing concern, Trachoma!
However, there are many others, one such is Hepatitis, a battle that most of the world countries are fighting against and the Himalayan Nation is no exception.
On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day 2018, let us take a look at the world hepatitis scenario and more importantly Nepal’s progress with hepatitis awareness and eradication.
To begin with, let us first understand what Hepatitis is all about.
What is Hepatitis?
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) defines Hepatitis as an inflammation of the liver commonly caused by hepatitis virus. Hepatitis can be classified into 5 types, Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
Hepa Foundation Nepal
The Hepa Foundation (HF) is the regulatory body for Hepatitis in Nepal. In view of the World Hepatitis Day 2018 awareness program, it held a rally to raise awareness on Hepatitis in Nepal with the theme ‘Get Treated’. The rally began at Dasarath Stadium, Kathmandu.
While addressing a press conference organized by HF, President of HF Anil Karki says that they will be submitting a report on the status of Hepatitis in Nepal to the UN to inform them about the scenario in Nepal. This report will help the UN start some initiatives to begin awareness in the Himalayan country.
Statistics in Nepal
Although Nepal is doing its bit in keeping up with the pace of the world nations in fighting hepatitis, it still lags behind in terms of strategizing diagnostics & treatment and lacks the required infrastructure & logistics says a 2016 report.
The Himalayan nation is still dependent on its neighboring countries for molecular diagnostics for viral Hepatitis B and C
As per WHO statistics, there are around 1.5 million Hepatitis A, B and C infected people in Nepal
According to a 2016 report, nearly 260,000 persons are highly infected with Hepatitis B virus in Nepal
In 2008, the total Hepatitis C virus infected in Nepal accounted to 130,000 people
According to a recent case study, Kathmandu is the most effected region with about 200 Hepatitis-sufferers.
Out of the 200 people, 70 percent claimed that they were unaware about the disease while 30 percent had limited knowledge
So far, the country has experienced five hepatitis epidemics between 1973-2007
The most recent epidemic hit Nepal’s Biratnagar in 2014
2010 – The Year of the First Hepatitis Day
The WHO officially declared World Hepatitis Day in 2010 after the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed the Resolution 63.18, which establishes the day as one of the seven ‘officially-endorsed WHO health’ days and one of the four ‘WHO disease-specific’ days.
World Hepatitis Day 2018: #TestTreatHepatitis
This year, WHO introduced ‘Test. Treat. Hepatitis’ as the theme for World Hepatitis Day 2018 and the driving agenda behind all #hepatitisawareness2018 activity with the aim to:
Support urgent scale-up of hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care services, with specific focus on promoting WHO testing and treatment recommendations
Showcase best practices and promote universal health coverage of hepatitis services
Improve partnerships and funding in the fight against viral hepatitis
World Hepatitis Alliance: #FindTheMissingMillions
The World Health Alliance started a global campaign Find The Missing Millions to raise awareness and advocate the campaign targeted at tackling the main barriers of effective diagnosis by engaging civil society organizations and the affected community as a key force in establishing a #hepatitisfreeworld
Following the findings of a global survey in 2018 which lists out the barriers to Hepatitis B and C diagnosis globally, the WHA has come up with a list of obstacles that it identifies as major ones:
Lack of public knowledge of the disease
Lack of knowledge of the disease amongst healthcare professionals
Lack of easily accessible testing
Stigma and discrimination
The out-of-pocket costs to the patients
Hepatitis B and C virus are the leading cause of liver cancer across the world
More than 80% of the viral hepatitis-affected people are unaware of their condition
There are 325 million people living with viral hepatitis in the world, out of which 290 are unaware of their condition
According to Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 1.2 million people in the United States and 350 million people worldwide live with Hepatitis
HCV is one of the most common bloodborne viral infections in US.
Currently, approximately 2.7 -3.9 million Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection
More than 1 in 10 people are affected with Hepatitis worldwide.
Call for Action!
Recognizing the need for #hepatitisawareness in the South-East Asia region, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh WHO South-East Asia Regional Director says, “This lack of awareness and treatment lead to progressive liver damage and can cause life-threatening conditions such as fibrosis and liver cancer, resulting in an estimated 4,10,000 deaths in the region every year.”
“It also allows viral hepatitis to spread. Region-wide, an estimated 40 million people live with chronic hepatitis B while an estimated 10 million live with chronic hepatitis C,” she says, adding further.
Hope that the initiatives and efforts of the WHO, PAHO, WHA and HF bring about the desired goal of eradicating #Hepatitis by 2030.