Saturday February 24, 2018

‘Coordinated action needed to curb hepatitis’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for coordinated action to detect, control and treat hepatitis in the wake of 1.5 million deaths occurring every year due to hepatitis, including by liver cancer and cirrhosis.

Nearly one-third of the global hepatitis deaths – 500,000 – occur in the WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR).

Globally, viral hepatitis (a liver inflammation) kills 4,000 people every day.

“Each one of these numbers carry a potential story of suffering, pain, lost livelihoods, missed opportunities, social, psychological and economic costs,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

India alone has 40 million people living with chronic hepatitis B infection. Sixty percent of the people living with HIV are co-infected with hepatitis.

“These infections, diseases, deaths and associated hardships for individuals, families, societies and economies can and must be prevented,” she added.

“Governments need to ensure adequate and equitable access to hepatitis prevention and control measures,” she said.

“However, the responsibility also lies with individuals. Nearly 65 percent of the people living with chronic hepatitis B and 75 percent of those with chronic hepatitis C are unaware that they are infected. We are living with this risk and unless we act now, it can be catastrophic,” she noted.

Health promotion initiatives need to be strengthened and people should be made aware of how they risk getting hepatitis and what they need to do to protect themselves and their families from the hepatitis viruses.

“There is need for awareness among health administrators, policymakers, and medical professionals,” she said.

“The health sector needs to strengthen disease surveillance systems, ensure injection and patient safety, reliably and systematically screen all blood products, ensure strict adherence to the new WHO injection safety guidelines and improve infant vaccination rates including birth dose of hepatitis B within first 24 hours of delivery,” she added.

Pointing out that this year’s theme for World Hepatitis Day on July 28 is “Prevent hepatitis. Act now”, Singh said: “The global focus this year will be on preventing hepatitis B and C. With effective vaccine and treatment, as well as a better understanding of how we can prevent hepatitis, we can aim to eliminate these diseases and save lives,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Brazil to vaccinate entire population against yellow fever

Thirty-four million people need to be vaccinated there, with 23 million in the northeast and 11 million in the south of the country

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Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America.
Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America. Wikimedia Commons

Brazilian Health Minister Ricardo Barros has proposed to vaccinate the entire country against yellow fever after the disease emerged in new areas.

The recommendation will now be discussed with international organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

At the start of February, vaccination efforts began in states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, seeking to immunize 19.7 million people against yellow fever, for which cases have been rising since last year, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to Barros on Thursday, if the government approves the idea, separate programs will take place in each state of the country.

Also Read: Study: Partial Dose of Yellow Fever Vaccine Provides Protection

Barros added that the vaccination campaign should be rolled out gradually, according to the capacity of each state.

Certain northeastern and southern regions of the country have not seen campaigns so far, as there have been no outbreaks of yellow fever there.

At the start of February, vaccination efforts began in states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia.
At the start of February, vaccination efforts began in states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. Wikimedia Commons

Thirty-four million people need to be vaccinated there, with 23 million in the northeast and 11 million in the south of the country.

A plant belonging to Libbs Farmaceutica in Sao Paulo is currently about to begin production of 4 million doses of the vaccine a month.

From July 1, 2017, to February 20, 2018, Brazil has confirmed 545 cases of yellow fever, with 164 deaths.

A further 1,773 suspected cases have been noted, with 685 having been eliminated and 422 still under investigation. (IANS)

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