World Hepatitis Day

Pexels Andrea Piacquadio 3801394
A sick woman (photo: Andrea Piacquadio)

World Hepatitis Day is marked annually on 28 July when it brings the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. This year’s theme is “We’re not waiting”.

The WHD 2023 call to action is to “accelerate elimination efforts of viral hepatitis now and the urgent need for testing and treatment for the real people who need it. Individuals and communities around the world are making change happen in their own lives and in the world around them. We celebrate them, while demanding more action”. WHD is one of just four disease-specific global awareness days officially endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). World Hepatitis Day unites patient organizations, governments, medical professionals, civil society, industry, and the general public to boost the global profile of viral hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year – that’s as many as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria, combined. Together, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C cause 80 per cent of liver cancer cases in the world. Currently, 90 per cent of people living with hepatitis B and 80 per cent living with hepatitis C are not aware of their status. This can result in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and in some cases, unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

According to the World Hepatitis Alliance, viral hepatitis is not found in one location nor among one set of people; it is a truly global epidemic that can affect millions of people without them even being aware. With the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis is achievable, but greater awareness and understanding of the disease and the risks is a must, as is access to cheaper diagnostics and treatment. With the inclusion of viral hepatitis in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recent adoption of the world’s first global hepatitis strategy,

“We are at a pivotal moment. Now more than ever political commitment is needed. Without urgent action, deaths will continue to rise and the epidemic will continue to grow. World Hepatitis Day presents an ideal opportunity: an opportunity to join together and raise the profile of viral hepatitis among the public, the world’s media and on the global health agenda. Elimination of viral Hepatitis can’t wait”, the Speaker of the World Hepatitis Alliance noted.

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