world-hepatitis-day

Context: On the occasion of “World Hepatitis Day”, 2nd Empathy e-Conclave was organised by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in collaboration with Airport Authority of India (AAI) for creating awareness among the parliamentarians.

Background:

  • World Hepatitis Day is commemorated each year on 28 July to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes a range of health problems, including liver cancer.
  • Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, viral hepatitis continues to claim thousands of lives every day.
  • This year’s theme is “Hepatitis-free future,” with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns. 

About the event

  • The event highlighted the importance of a healthy liver and features of “Empowering People Against Hepatitis: The Empathy Campaign” by ILBS in partnership with AAI.
    • ILBS is a WHO collaborative centre. It helped in the development of the National Viral Hepatitis Program which was launched on July 28, 2018. 
    • India is committed to the WHO goals of elimination of Hepatitis C and of reducing the burden of Hepatitis B by 2030.
  • The theme of this year’s conclave is “Keep your Liver Safe in COVID times”, which is very apt and important especially in these testing times. 

Significance: 

  • While the mortality due to COVID-19 is approximately 2 to 3 % and most cases are largely asymptomatic, it is important to create awareness about the higher risk of both morbidity and mortality faced by people with co-morbidities like diabetes, obesity and fatty liver, chronic liver diseases. 
  • The Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres are also working for screening of such health conditions.

National Viral Hepatitis Control Program (NVHCP)

  • The National Viral Hepatitis Control Program has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • It is an integrated initiative for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in India to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3 which aims to end viral hepatitis by 2030. 
  • This is a comprehensive plan covering the entire gamut from Hepatitis A, B, C, D & E, and the whole range from prevention, detection and treatment to mapping treatment outcomes.

Aim:

  1. Combat hepatitis and achieve countrywide elimination of Hepatitis C by 2030;
  2. Achieve significant reduction in the infected population, morbidity and mortality associated with Hepatitis B and C viz. Cirrhosis and Hepato-cellular carcinoma (liver cancer);
  3. Reduce the risk, morbidity and mortality due to Hepatitis A and E.

Less awareness about viral hepatitis

  • Individuals with viral B & C hepatitis are at increased risk for liver cancer and chronic liver disease, yet an estimated 80 percent of persons with chronic viral hepatitis do not know that they are infected.
  • There should be spreading of awareness about the silent epidemics of Hepatitis B & C and help remove the stigma attached to these diseases.

What is Viral Hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver
  • The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. 
  • Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. 
  • However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. 
  • The most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
  • There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E.  Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year. 
  • The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person. Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity.
  • Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). 
  • Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
  • Like HIV, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses spread:
  • By sharing needles, syringes, and other injection equipment.
  • From mother to child: Pregnant women can pass these infections to their infants. HIV-HCV coinfection increases the risk of passing on hepatitis C to the baby.
  • Sexually: Both viruses can also be transmitted sexually, but HBV is much more likely than HCV to be transmitted sexually. Sexual transmission of HCV is most likely to happen among gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV.
  • Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is a virus that requires hepatitis B virus (HBV) for its replication. HDV infection occurs only simultaneously or as a super-infection with HBV.
  • Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by infection with a virus known as hepatitis E virus (HEV).The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through the fecal-oral route due to fecal contamination of drinking water. 

Vaccination:

  • Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccine. It spreads from contaminated food or water or contact with someone who is infected.
    • Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and low-grade fever.
  • Hepatitis B: Vaccination is the best way to prevent all of the ways that hepatitis B is transmitted. 
  • Hepatitis C: No vaccine exists for HCV and no effective pre- or post exposure prophylaxis is available.
  • Hepatitis D: A vaccine against hepatitis B is the only method to prevent HDV infection.  
Image Source: WHO