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Urgent increase in hepatitis testing, treatment needed: WHO -The Asian Age


The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are calling on countries to urgently increase hepatitis testing and treatment services in order to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

The calls come in the lead-up to World Hepatitis Day 2018 on 28 July, which focuses on the theme "Test.Treat.Hepatitis."

Millions of people are infected with viral hepatitis without knowing and without receiving treatment.

The lack of awareness and treatment lead to progressive liver damage and can cause life-threatening conditions, resulting in an estimated 410 000 deaths in the South-East Asia region every year, according to WHO.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video statement, "We have a clear vision for elimination, and we have the tools to do it. But we must accelerate progress to achieve our goal of eliminating hepatitis by 2030."

Viral hepatitis B and C affect 325 million people around the world. Left untreated, these infections lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis, which together caused more than 1.3 million deaths in 2015 alone.

Worldwide, less than 20% of people had access to testing and treatment services for hepatitis B and C infections at the end of 2016.

World Hepatitis Day 2018 is being observed in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world for raising awareness against the deadly virus.

President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages appreciated the observance of the day in Bangladesh.

President Abdul Hamid, in his message, said the number of people affected by the two viruses is increasing due to the lack of knowledge about the diseases.

"Especially, the main reasons behind the disease are using the same syringe again and again for drugs and unsafe blood circulation," he said.

Hepatitis can be eliminated through creating mass awareness, said the president in the statement adding that this year's theme "Eliminate Hepatitis" is a timely one for this regard.

In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the number of patients affected by Hepatitis B and C are increasing day by day in Bangladesh as well as in the entire world, especially in Asia and Pacific region.

The government has been implementing various programmes to create awareness among mass people and to ensure necessary medical facilities to prevent and cure the diseases, she said.