The international community will Tuesday commemorate the World Hepatitis Day (WHD) 2020, which is an opportunity to educate the public about the burden of hepatitis as a preventable, treatable, and in the case of Hepatitis C, a curable disease, under the theme “Find the Missing Millions”.
WHD is observed annually every July 28 in recognition of the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who discovered the Hepatitis B virus in 1967, and 2 years later developed the first Hepatitis B vaccine, which culminated in his winning of the Nobel Prize. Establishments around the world, including WHO and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), commemorate the Day to raise awareness about the challenge of viral hepatitis, which impacts more than 325 million people worldwide and claims around 1.4 million lives every year.
According to the WHO, Hepatitis is the second major killer infectious disease in the world, after tuberculosis, however, over 80 percent of people living with hepatitis still lack prevention, testing, and treatment services. “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 (WHA).
The WHO says it is focused on the dream of a hepatitis free future and reminding the world that it is vital to maintain services, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to leave no one behind and expand access to testing and treatment. Moreover, as part of the Day’s 2020 celebrations, a “Compendium of good practice” will be published highlighting specific country innovations and successes in hepatitis prevention, care and treatment followed by a webinar showcasing stories from the compendium to be held on 27 July.
“Every WHA member will be working around the clock to minimize the impact of this pandemic on their communities and fight for the rights of their patients. The hepatitis elimination community stands ready to assist in the fight against COVID-19,” says WHA. “Ensuring that no-one is left behind in and that policymakers’ deliver on their commitment will be key to achieving elimination. This is our priority. Make it your priority too.”
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