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World Hepatitis Day Aims To Raise Awareness Of, Action On Viral Infections

“Only one-third of the world’s countries have national strategies for viral hepatitis, the [WHO said Wednesday,] urging governments to scale up measures to tackle this ‘silent epidemic,’ in particular the five types that, over time, cause chronic and debilitating illnesses,” the U.N. News Centre reports. World Hepatitis Day, recognized on July 28, “serves to promote greater understanding of hepatitis as a global public health problem and to stimulate the strengthening of preventive and control measures against infection in countries throughout the world,” the news service writes. A new WHO report (.pdf), titled “Global policy report on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in WHO member states,” covers 126 countries and “identifies successes as well as gaps at the country level in the implementation of four priority areas: raising awareness, evidence-based data for action, prevention of transmission, and screening, care and treatment,” according to the news service (7/24).

Stefan Wiktor, team leader on the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Program, “pointed out that while hepatitis is a worldwide problem, certain regions are more affected than others,” VOA News writes, adding, “For example, Africa and Asia experience high incidence of hepatitis B and C” (Lewis, 7/25). Stephen Locarnini, an infectious diseases researcher and joint secretary of the Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (CEVHAP), “said health authorities in the Asia-Pacific region should deal with hepatitis in the same concerted manner with which they approach AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” Agence France-Presse/Fox News reports. According to the WHO, “viral hepatitis kills close to 1.4 million globally, and affects hundreds of millions of others,” the news agency writes (7/25).