In the simplest terms hepatitis is the inflammation/infection of the liver that can be caused by various infectious viruses or other noninfectious causes such as drug abuse, autoimmune causes, biliary tract dysfunction amongst others.
There are five primary strains of the hepatitis virus known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E with each one of them affecting the liver differently and have different forms of transmission, severity, and prevention possibilities. Of all the strains, Hepatitis B and C are the most common causes of liver complications worldwide with over 350 million people affected by the same.
Hepatitis can become a serious, life-threatening condition very quickly, because liver performs over 500 functions, is a vital organ in maintaining the metabolism of the body, and is one of the vital organs for our survival. Thus, hepatitis infection – if it is not diagnosed early and treated effectively – can result in severe complications, including fatalities.
According to the WHO statistics, there are over one million deaths attributed to the Hepatitis B & C infections each year. Every day there are over 8000 new cases of hepatitis infection worldwide, with one new chronic infection occurring every 10 seconds. That should put into perspective the severity and urgency of action required by all of us in this fight against hepatitis.
World Hepatitis Day
World Hepatitis Day is commemorated each year on the 28th of July, in memory of the Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus, as well as developed the diagnostic test to ascertain the virus, and the vaccine to prevent it.
This day is an occasion to improve awareness on the disease, its severity, as well as the need to take urgent action to prevent and manage it better. Lowering testing costs, and improving vaccination coverage along with treatment facilities are the key facets of the global elimination goals set by WHO to be achieved by the year 2030.
Prevention & Treatment of Hepatitis
Hepatitis is both preventable and treatable condition. At least certain strains of the virus. While, Hepatitis B & C are extremely prevalent forms of the virus, they are effective prevention & treatment options available for both.
Worldwide over a million Hepatitis B & C infections occur each year, and without effective adult vaccination measures Hepatitis B & C will soon overtake malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in the number of fatalities each year.
The hepatitis B vaccination can and should be administered at birth, that will vastly bring down infection rates worldwide.
Watch Dr Raghuram Kondala, Consultant - Medical Gastroenterology & Liver Diseases
Talking about highlighting the importance of having a healthy liver, how hepatitis can disrupt your liver functions, and subsequently affect the quality of your life.
One Liver, One Life
This year the theme for World Hepatitis Day is One Liver, One Life! This is an apt encapsulation of the importance of collective action towards increasing hepatitis awareness, vaccination, and treatment coverage. Hepatitis is a silent disease, with awareness levels at the lower end of the scale. The symptoms manifest at a much-advanced stage and therefore ends up causing a high number of patients living with undiagnosed hepatitis infections. Years of neglect can only aggravate the condition, leading to serious liver disease or cancers – which leave little scope of reversing the conditions. Thus, let’s collectively act now. After all we all have one liver, one life, and it can be safeguarded by one shot of vaccination.