Raising awareness and promoting preventive measures to combat viral hepatitis worldwide
On July 28th, World Hepatitis Day, people around the globe unite to bring attention to the significant health threat posed by viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, characterized by liver inflammation, is caused by five primary viruses: Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. With viral hepatitis ranking as the 7th leading cause of death worldwide, this annual observance aims to raise awareness and encourage actions to combat this global menace.
Dr. Rajnish Monga, HOD-Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Paras Hospitals in Gurugram, emphasizes the importance of understanding the different types of hepatitis viruses. They can be divided into two categories based on their mode of transmission and long-term consequences:
Waterborne Viruses: Hepatitis A and E fall under this category, transmitted through contaminated water sources. While these viruses may cause short-term health implications such as jaundice, they can also pose a risk to life.
Waterborne and Bloodborne Viruses: Understanding the Types and Long-Term Consequences
Bloodborne Viruses: Hepatitis B, C, and D are primarily transmitted through blood contact. If left untreated, these viruses can lead to long-term consequences such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is “Bringing hepatitis care closer to you.” The aim is to raise awareness and simplify access to hepatitis treatment by extending care beyond tertiary hospital settings to primary health centers and community health settings.
In India, the burden of hepatitis is growing, with hepatitis B and C being widely prevalent in cities and villages, affecting approximately 3% and 1% of the population, respectively. Fortunately, these viruses can be easily diagnosed through simple blood tests and managed with affordable medication, reducing the risk of long-term complications such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Protecting oneself from hepatitis involves taking simple yet crucial actions:
- Always use sterile injections.
- Avoid sharing razors and blades.
- Practice safe sex.
- Ensure safe tattooing and piercing practices.
- Vaccinate newborns against Hepatitis B.
Waterborne hepatitis viruses, such as Hepatitis A and E, can be prevented by following these measures:
- Consume clean water and avoid unreliable water sources. Boiling and chlorination effectively kill the viruses.
- Refrain from consuming uncooked pork and shellfish.
- Maintain proper hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or before preparing and eating food.
- Immunize children and patients with liver disease using the Hepatitis A vaccine.
On this World Hepatitis Day, let us join forces to raise awareness, promote preventive measures, and work towards a future free from the burden of viral hepatitis.