KARACHI, July 16 (PPI): As the World Hepatitis Day is being obsereved on 28 July 2017, Pakistan is among 11 countries which carry almost 50% of the global burden of chronic hepatitis. Such countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Uganda, Viet Nam. The World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to add momentum to all efforts to implement the WHO’s first global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis for 2016-2021 and help Member States achieve the final goal by eliminate hepatitis.
According to a WHO report, activities and awareness around World Hepatitis Day are designed to: Build and leverage political engagement following official endorsement of the Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis at the World Health Assembly 2016; Showcase emerging national responses to hepatitis in heavy burden countries; Encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public; Highlight the need for a greater global response as outlined in the WHO’s Global hepatitis report of 2017; and In support of the “Eliminate hepatitis” campaign, WHO will release new information on national responses in 28 countries with the heaviest burden.
Pakistan is among 11 countries which carry almost 50% of the global burden of chronic hepatitis. Such countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Uganda and Viet Nam. The 17 countries that also have high prevalence and together with the above, account for 70% of the global burden: Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.
Viral hepatitis is a major global health problem and needs an urgent response. There were approximately 325 million people living with chronic hepatitis at the end of 2015. Globally, an estimated 257 million people were living with hepatitis B (HBV) infection, and 71 million people were living with hepatitis C (HCV) infection in 2015. Very few of those infected accessed testing and treatment, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
By the end of 2015, only 9% of HBV-infected people and 20% of HCV-infected people had been tested and diagnosed. Of those diagnosed with HBV infection, 8% (or 1.7 million people) were on treatment, while 7% of those diagnosed with HCV infection (or 1.1 million people) had started treatment in 2015. The global targets for 2030 are: 90% of people with HBV and HCV infections tested and 80% of eligible patients are reached with treatment.
Viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths in 2015 – comparable with TB deaths and exceeding deaths from HIV. Hepatitis deaths are increasing. New hepatitis infections continue to occur, mostly hepatitis C. The number of children under five living with chronic HBV infection was reduced to 1.3% in 2015 (from 4.7% before vaccines were introduced). Hepatitis B vaccine is preventing approximately 4.5 million infections per year in children.
However, 1.75 million adults were newly infected with HCV in 2015, largely due to injecting drug use and due to unsafe injections in health care settings in certain countries. Achieving the 2030 elimination goal is not overly ambitious; reports from 28 high-burden countries give cause for optimism. On World Hepatitis Day 2017, WHO is publishing 28 country profiles which show that, despite many challenges, the global effort to eliminate hepatitis is gaining ground. However, major obstacles still remain.