World Hepatitis Day: Prevent hepatitis. Act now | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 26, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 26, 2015

World Hepatitis Day: Prevent hepatitis. Act now

'Hepatitis' means inflammation of the liver and also refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver. Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. They are transmitted through different routes: Hepatitis A and E through contaminated food and water; Hepatitis B – through unsafe blood and other bodily fluids; Hepatitis C – mostly through infectious blood; and Hepatitis D – serving as an additional infection in the presence of Hepatitis B. These viruses all cause acute hepatitis which is characterized by fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and jaundice. Viral hepatitis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease.

Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. Worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C. Every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis and yet all of these deaths could be prevented. With better awareness and understanding of how we can prevent hepatitis we can eliminate this disease and save 4,000 lives day.

Viral hepatitis can be prevented, but most people don't know how. That is why in 2010 the World Health Organization made World Hepatitis Day one of only 4 official disease-specific world health days, to be celebrated each year on the 28th July. The date of 28 July was chosen for World Hepatitis Day in honor of the birthday of Nobel Laureate Professor Baruch Samuel Blumberg. Dr. Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and two years later developed the first hepatitis B vaccine and won the Nobel Prize. Millions of people across the world now take part in World Hepatitis Day, to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, and to call for access to treatment, better prevention programs and government action.

In May 2014, World Health Assembly delegates from 194 governments adopted a resolution to promote global action to prevent, diagnose, and treat viral hepatitis. On World Hepatitis Day, events will take place around the world focusing on preventing hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

 

Prevention

Hepatitis infection can be prevented by providing safe food and water (hepatitis A and E), vaccines (hepatitis A, B, and E), screening of blood donations and provision of sterile injecting equipment and assuring infection control (hepatitis B and C).

For Hepatitis A, Immunization of children (1-18 years of age) consists of two or three doses of the vaccine. Adults need a booster dose six to 12 months following the initial dose of vaccine. The vaccine is thought to be effective for 15–20 years or more.

Safe and effective vaccines provide protection against hepatitis B for 15 years and possibly much longer. Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all newborns and individuals up to 18 years of age and adult participating at risk of infection be vaccinated. In many parts of the world, widespread infant vaccination programs have led to a decrease in new cases of hepatitis B. There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, but research is ongoing.

 

In General:

* Wash your hands after going to the bathroom and before fixing food or eating.

 * Use latex condoms, which may lower the risk of transmission.

* Avoid tap water when traveling to certain countries or regions. Ask your doctor about risks before you travel.

* Don't share drug needles.

* Don't share personal items—such as toothbrushes, razors and nail clippers—with an infected person.

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