Aids Weekly Plus
The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Policy Report on the Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis—released prior to World Hepatitis Day on July 28—indicated that Caribbean and other countries should take immediate action to prevent the spread of viral hepatitis and avoid the future expense of caring for hepatitis patients.
WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and the Environment Dr. Keiji Fukuda noted that hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections often caused no symptoms until liver damage was severe, but could result in debilitating cirrhosis and liver cancer. WHO estimated that hepatitis caused 1.4 million deaths annually. Fukuda recommended universal access to immunization, screening, diagnosis, and antiviral therapy to prevent new infections and reduce the hepatitis burden.
Results of the 126-country survey measured successes and gaps in four key areas related to viral hepatitis: increased awareness; evidence-based data for action; transmission prevention; and screening, care, and treatment. The WHO report findings indicated that only 37 percent of countries surveyed had a national strategy for addressing viral hepatitis. Eighty-two percent of participating countries had hepatitis surveillance programs, but only half monitored hepatitis C and B, which caused the most severe illness and death.
A resolution adopted by WHO in 2010 called for a comprehensive approach to viral hepatitis prevention and control throughout the world.