- World Hepatitis Day is celebrated annually on 28th July to create awareness on the global burden of viral hepatitis
- Around 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware worldwide
- The theme for 2020 is ‘Find The Missing Millions’. World Hepatitis Day is celebrated annually on July 28th.Organizations around the world celebrate World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness on the global burden of viral hepatitis and to eliminate hepatitis by 2030. The theme for 2020 is ‘Find The Missing Millions.’
There are five main types of hepatitis virus- A,B,C,D,E. The five types are distinct and can spread in various ways, affect different populations, and finally can result in various health outcomes. Mainly, types B and C are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis, cancer, and other hepatitis-related deaths.
What makes Hepatitis a Global Health Problem?
- Hepatitis B and C cause 1.3 million deaths every year
- Hepatitis B and C kill more people annually compared to HIV, Tuberculosis, and malaria
- Hepatitis B and C are accountable for about 2 out of 3 liver cancer deaths
- Hepatitis B and C are silent epidemics, 91% of people with Hepatitis B and 80% of the people with Hepatitis C are unaware of their infections
- Around 290 million people around the world are living with viral hepatitis unaware
- Birthdose vaccines aren’t used in half the countries worldwide even though they cost as low as 20 cents
- Eliminating hepatitis B and C as threats by 2030 would prevent almost 36 million infections and save 10 million lives
What makes Hepatitis a Major Health Issue in India?
- According to WHO, liver disease is the tenth most common cause of death in India
- Around one in five people are affected with liver disease in India
- There are about 50 million carriers of viral hepatitis in India
Genesis of World Hepatitis Day
The World Hepatitis Alliance, in collaboration with patient groups, declared in 2008 that May 19 would be global World Hepatitis Day. However, in May 2010, the date of World Hepatitis Day was changed to July 28, the birthday of the Nobel laureate Dr. Baruch Blumberg.
In 1967, Dr. Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus. Dr. Blumberg also developed the first hepatitis B vaccine two years later. These achievements led to Dr. Blumberg winning the Nobel Prize in 1976.
World Hepatitis Day Theme 2020- ‘Find the Missing Millions’
Globally, there are about 290 million people who are currently unaware of their viral hepatitis infection. It is crucial to find the undiagnosed people as millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost.
The theme of 2020 ‘Find the Missing Millions’ focuses on finding undiagnosed people the ‘missing millions’ by raising awareness about viral hepatitis.
WHO Theme for World Hepatitis Day, 2020
World Health Organization’s (WHO) WHO’s theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is ‘Hepatitis-free future.’
The theme focuses on preventing hepatitis B in mothers and newborns. WHO will also be publishing new recommendations to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus on World Hepatitis Day.
The main goals for this year’s WHO theme are:
- Prevention – Vaccination of all newborns against hepatitis B at birth, with at least two additional doses
- Stop Transmission from Mother to Child – Testing of all pregnant women for hepatitis virus and treatment if required
- Leave No One Behind – Universal access to prevention, testing, and treatment options for the hepatitis virus
- Expand – Expand access totesting and treatment to prevent liver cancer and other liver diseases
- Maintain – Maintain all essential hepatitis services during COVID-19
What are the Objectives of World Hepatitis Day?
- Spread awareness about viral hepatitis and its types
- Involve people from various avenues to focus together on this issue
- Educate people about prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of hepatitis
- Raise awareness about vaccines available for hepatitis A and B
- Remove social stigma that is commonly associated with the disease
What are the Prevention / Treatment Options Available for Viral Hepatitis?
- Vaccines are available to prevent hepatitis B, which also prevents hepatitis D. The vaccine reduces mother-to-child transmission when administered at birth.
- Vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis E and hepatitis A
- Hepatitis C can be treated by using anti-viral medicines
Liver-friendly Foods that can be added to the Diet
- Coffee – Reduces fat buildup in the liver and increases protective antioxidants in the liver
- Oatmeal – Adds fiber to the diet that can be helpful for the liver. Oatmeals are also rich in beta-glucans that help fight diabetes and obesity
- Green tea – Fight against oxidative stress and reduce signs of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Garlic – Stimulates the liver and reduces fat content in NAFLD people
- Berries – Blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries contain antioxidants that protect the liver from damage
- Grapes – Rich in antioxidants that protect the liver
- Grapefruit – Reduces fat buildup, contains antioxidants, and helps fight against NAFLD
- Prickly pear – Protects the liver
- Plant Foods – Avocado, banana, barley, beets, broccoli, brown rice, carrots, fig, kale, collards, lemon, papaya, watermelon are helpful for the liver
- Fatty fish – Reduces inflammation, maintains enzyme levels in the liver. Fish oil supplements are also beneficial
- Nuts – Contains unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants that prevent NAFLD, reduce inflammation, and oxidative stress
- Olive Oil – Reduces oxidative stress and improves liver function
Impact of COVID-19 on Hepatitis Patients
There is no proper evidence to suggest that people with hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection are at a higher risk of developing COVID-19
The major concern for hepatitis patients is that the services for hepatitis patients may be affected in a few countries.
Those awaiting hepatitis C treatment may experience a delay due to safety issues.
Patients on hepatitis B treatments need to make sure that they have enough medications.
So, on World Hepatitis Day, let us raise awareness about viral hepatitis around the globe and encourage more testing and diagnosis to achieve the theme ‘Find the Missing Millions.’