This Saturday, July 28th, 2012 marks World Hepatitis Day [WHD]. This initiative began in 2008 by the World Health Assembly and it is presently coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance, an international non-governmental organization that represents patients globally. The theme of this year’s WHD is “It’s Closer Thank You Think”, an alarming statement which encompasses the gravity of the disease. It is often called the silent disease, because most people don’t get diagnosed at the correct time. Currently, 1 out of 12 people live with chronic hepatitis virus, a value which is higher than people infected with HIV or cancer. Over 500 million all over the world are suffering from hepatitis. Thus, the main aim for the WHD is to spread awareness and make people knowledgeable about the disease, on how it can be contracted, and associated prevention and screening methods. Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver and can be caused by a broad range of things. While there are five types of such viruses, A B, C, D, and E, Hepatitis B and C are the most predominant and perilous. Collectively, they take lives of approximately one million people per year.
One of the key mandates of the World Hepatitis Alliance is to increase Hepatitis B vaccine coverage and propagate its incorporation into the national immunization programs. The organization operates to coordinate a global response to improve public health in this sector. The World Health Organization passed a resolution which establishes a concrete framework that works effectively to bring awareness, diagnosis and treatment for patients infected with hepatitis.
This year, the World Hepatitis Alliance is attempting a Guinness World Record. They hope to have an enormous group of participants around the world to perform their “See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil” action. This gesture is meant to emphasize the fact that hepatitis is a problem that is being ignored around the world.
The designation of such days displays the importance of public health education because awareness is the first step towards prevention.