World Hepatitis Day on 28th July: Significance, theme and history

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On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day on 28th July, let us see what makes this day so special and what its significance is.

The world celebrates World Hepatitis Day on 28th July. It aims raise awareness about the disease to reduce the number of hepatitis patients around the world. This disease is responsible for around 1.4 million deaths every year, says WHO. This international body also states that hepatitis is the second major killer infectious disease after tuberculosis. Every year, it has a new theme. World Hepatitis Day 2019 theme is ‘Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis’. Also Read – Global rates of liver cancer are increasing: Study

As the theme suggests, the main motive of this campaign will be to achieve global elimination of hepatitis by 2030. Pakistan is hosting the World Hepatitis Day 2019. And, the important events related to this day will also take place in Islamabad.

History Of World Hepatitis Day

The World Health Organisation initiated the World Hepatitis Day as a global awareness campaign to entirely eradicate hepatitis from the world. Earlier in 2004, patient groups of European and Middle Eastern regions celebrated it as International Hepatitis C Awareness Day. In other regions, people celebrated it as Hepatitis Day on different dates. In the year 2008, World Hepatitis Alliance, in association with patient groups, declared May 19th as the first World Hepatitis Day. Also Read – Treatment for liver disorder during pregnancy ineffective: Experts

Later, the date was changed to July 28th by the World Health Assembly in May 2010. The name of the day remained World Hepatitis Day. The focus was to spread awareness about hepatitis on a national and international level. Notably, 28th July was chosen as World Hepatitis Day to honour Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg on his birth anniversary. He discovered the hepatitis B virus. Currently, more than 100 countries worldwide celebrates the day with many effective activities.

Objectives Of World Hepatitis Day

  • Involve people from all walks of life to focus together on this issue.
  • Spread awareness about various types of hepatitis and their means of transmission.
  • Inform people about prevention, diagnosis and control of hepatitis.
  • Raise awareness about hepatitis A and B vaccines.
  • Inform the public about comprehensive care and treatment options available for the different forms of hepatitis.
  • Remove social stigma associated with this disease.
  • Increase the number of skilled medical professionals in order to enhance quality care.
  • Encourage professional staff members to actively participate in the event.

Significance Of World Hepatitis Day 

In India, Hepatitis B affects around 40 million people and Hepatitis C affects around six to 12 million people in the year 2017, says WHO. If we look at the global picture, an estimated 290 million men, women and children are currently living with viral hepatitis unknowingly, says The World Hepatitis Alliance.

It also states that if proper measures are taken right now, this number will increase by 76 million by 2030. Also, the number of preventable deaths from viral hepatitis would be around 18.1 million. This forecast will raise concerns for sure and highlight the need to address this global burden. But before that you must know how hepatitis affects your body. Read further to know about that.

What Is Hepatitis?

It refers to an inflammatory condition that affects your liver. Caused by different types of viruses, hepatitis is of 5 types, namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Among these, hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common. They can potentially interfere with the functions of the liver, an important organ located in the upper right side of your abdomen. It is responsible for some significant functions like bile production (required for digestion), breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and synthesis of clotting factors. It is also important for the activation of various enzymes, excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, drugs, etc.

If you are infected with hepatitis A virus, you will experience symptoms like jaundice, loss of appetite, fever, stomach pain, nausea, fatigue and diarrhoea. It is a highly contagious liver infection. This virus is transmitted via contaminated foods and water.

Hepatitis B transmits through contact with body fluids. This can potentially lead to serious complications like liver failure, cancer, cirrhosis (scarring of liver), kidney disease, or inflammation of blood vessels.

Hepatitis C generally leads to severe liver damage as around 80 per cent of people with the infection do not experience any symptoms. They remain unaware about their condition until it becomes chronic. It spreads through contaminated blood only.

Hepatitis D is the most severe form of hepatitis. Infected body fluid spreads this disease. Symptoms are jaundice, upset stomach, fatigue, stomach pain, joint pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, etc.

Hepatitis E is a water-borne disease that spreads through contaminated water. It comes with symptoms like stomach pain, loss of appetite, mild fever, dark urine, joint pain, and jaundice.

Year-Wise Themes

Every year World Hepatitis Day comes up with a different theme to address different aspects related to this viral disease. So far, World Hepatitis Day has addressed 11 themes.

2008-2009: Am I Number 12?

2010: This is hepatitis

2011: Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere. Know it. Confront it.

2012: It’s closer than you think

2013: More must be done to stop this silent killer

2014: Hepatitis: Think Again

2015: Prevention of viral Hepatitis. Act now.

2016: Know Hepatitis-Act now

2017: Eliminate Hepatitis

2018: Test. Treat. Hepatitis

2019: Invest in eliminating hepatitis

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