World Hepatitis Alliance calls for urgent action to address disease
killing as many as HIV/AIDS
LONDON, July 28, 2013 /CNW/ - On World Hepatitis Day, the World Hepatitis Alliance has called for
urgent attention to be given to recent figures showing that although
viral hepatitis kills as many as HIV/AIDS, the great majority of
countries have no programmes in place to tackle it.
The Global Burden of Disease study released last year in the Lancet
shows that viral hepatitis was responsible for almost 1.45 million
deaths in 2010, the same as HIV/AIDS and significantly more than TB or
Malaria. Despite this enormous annual death toll, leaders in global
health consistently leave it off their agendas.
'Viral hepatitis is the 8th leading cause of death worldwide, killing as
many people as HIV/AIDS every single year' says Charles Gore, President
of the World Hepatitis Alliance. '500 million people worldwide are
chronically infected. In the face of these numbers how is it possible
that viral hepatitis receives so little priority across the world?'
Currently, diseases receive attention and funding depending on their
global priority. However the global priority list does not necessarily
reflect the real burden of disease. This has led to responses that are
disproportionate to disease impact, and has left some diseases
tragically under-resourced. Viral hepatitis is a clear example; despite
its huge burden there is little global pressure to address it.
Consequently, the majority of governments have failed to dedicate
resources to viral hepatitis, even in countries where prevalence is up
The Global Report released by the World Health Organization last week
showed the extent to which viral hepatitis is ignored. Only 37% of
countries have a national strategy or plan for viral hepatitis, and
less than 30% reported having a department responsible solely for viral
hepatitis related activities. The lack of response to the world's 8th biggest killer is truly baffling. Not only does it put millions of
lives at risk by allowing this silent epidemic to grow, it leaves the
500 million people who are chronically infected wholly abandoned
without support or recognition.
In 2010 the World Health Organisation openly recognised that viral
hepatitis is a major cause for concern by making World Hepatitis Day
one of only 7 world health days officially recognised by WHO and all
Member States. However, major changes to the global health landscape
are yet to be seen. This World Hepatitis Day, the World Hepatitis
Alliance has therefore launched a mass awareness campaign under the
theme 'This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.' to encourage people to
find out more and to confront the silence around the disease.
The Alliance is also co-ordinating a global Guinness World Record
attempt for the number of people performing the 'see no evil, hear no
evil, speak no evil' actions at the same time, actions chosen because
in the same way the Three Wise Monkeys ignore the world around them, so
the world has been ignoring viral hepatitis. With 58 teams from 25
countries around the world taking part, this is a considerable
challenge but with a clear message: viral hepatitis is a silent
epidemic. Know it. Confront it.
Notes to the Editor
World Hepatitis Alliance
The World Hepatitis Alliance is a non-governmental umbrella organisation
with 165 member patient groups in 66 countries. Representing 500
million people living with viral hepatitis worldwide, the Alliance
strives to support and promote patient voices, to raise the profile of
viral hepatitis and to establish comprehensive hepatitis strategies in
all countries. The World Hepatitis Alliance has been a dominant voice
in achieving various successes for people living with hepatitis,
including leading the patient community in calling for the WHO
resolution on hepatitis. Through better awareness, prevention, care,
support and access to treatment, their ultimate goal is to work with
governments to eradicate these diseases.
For further information visit: http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org
World Hepatitis Day
On 28 July 2013, the World Hepatitis Alliance will coordinate the sixth
global World Hepatitis Day, one of only four official disease-specific
health awareness days recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO)
and endorsed by its 194 member states. The aim for 2013 is to raise
awareness of chronic hepatitis B and C around the globe and to drive
policy change for improvements in health outcomes for patients.
Hepatitis B and C
500 million people are living with chronic viral hepatitis. Hepatitis B
and C are 'silent' viruses, because people may experience no symptoms.
If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced
liver scarring (cirrhosis) liver cancer or liver failure.
SOURCE: World Hepatitis Alliance
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