July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Viral hepatitis, be it hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, are a group of diseases that affect the liver. The organ is responsible for the breakdown of fats, detoxifying blood and recycling blood cells. According to WHO, liver diseases are the 10th most common cause of death in India.
A 2016 report by the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR) says that Hepatitis C, a contagious infection of the liver, affects about 12 million people in the country.
What makes it tough to detect is that there may be no symptoms at all, or you may confuse it with the flu as they have similar signs. Watch out for fatigue, mild fever, muscle pain, loss of appetite, light-colored stools, nausea, and vomiting. Not seeking treatment at the right time can lead to liver cirrhosis or scarring and eventually liver cancer.
Hepatitis A is a viral disease transmitted by the oral-fecal route by consuming contaminated water/food or through direct contact with a patient and you can recover from it without lasting damage. Hepatitis B travels through blood and body fluids, while Hepatitis C is transmitted through exposure to blood from injections and transfusions. Currently, there are vaccines for hepatitis A and B and medicines to treat Hepatitis C.
For patients with hepatitis, it is recommended that they avoid consuming alcohol as it may worsen the scarring of the liver. Weight gain can also lead to a build-up of fat in the liver causing cirrhosis, so patients should aim for weight loss.
WHO will focus on the theme: “Test. Treat. Hepatitis” for World Hepatitis Day 2018 events. WHO events and activities can aim to achieve the following objectives globally, in regions and in countries:
- To support scale-up of hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care services, with a specific focus on promoting WHO testing and treatment recommendations;
- To showcase best practices and promote universal health coverage of hepatitis services; and
- To improve partnerships and funding in the fight against viral hepatitis
WHO and the Government of Mongolia will hold a series of events in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to commemorate the World Hepatitis Day 2018. The events will engage high-level leaders, advocates and patient representatives from global, regional and national organizations, highlighting the innovative solutions and partnerships needed in scaling up hepatitis testing and treatment services, as well as celebrating the country’s championing experience in the global hepatitis response.