|Hepatitis to affect five million people in S Asia during next decade: WHO|
28 July 2012
ISLAMABAD: Over 5 million people could die of viral hepatitis in the next decade in South-East Asia region, according World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates. The Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, which inflammates the liver, is one of the major public health problems globally and is the tenth leading cause of death, private news channel reported.
More than two billion people world-wide have evidence of HBV infection and there are more than 350 million chronic carriers of this infection, including nearly 40 million people in India.
“WHO estimates that more than five million people in the Southeast Asia region will die from the consequences of viral hepatitis in the next 10 years,” the WHO said.An estimated 100 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B infection and 30 million people with chronic hepatitis C infection in the region.
The WHO warning, which comes ahead of the World Hepatitis Day on July 28, will help in increasing awareness and understanding of the viral hepatitis and diseases it causes.“Viral hepatitis must be given greater priority in terms of both resources and effort. Good surveillance is essential. Infant immunization coverage for hepatitis B must reach levels greater than 95 per cent. “It should be mandatory for all blood and blood products to be screened for hepatitis B and C,” WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, Samlee Plianbangchang said.
There are seven types of viruses can cause viral hepatitis, called hepatitis A to G. Of these, the most common causes of infection are with one of four viruses: hepatitis A, B, C and E. All of these viruses can cause an acute illness with symptoms lasting several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice); dark urine; extreme fatigue; nausea; vomiting and abdominal pain.
The infection can cause acute illness with symptoms such as nausea, dark urine, vomiting and abdominal pain. “About 65 percent of those with hepatitis B and 75 percent of those with hepatitis C do not know they are infected. An effective vaccine has been available to prevent hepatitis B since 1982,” the WHO said.
The UN health agency added that it is developing a strategy to prevent and control viral hepatitis in the region. WHO is bringing health experts from 11 countries that will help finalise the strategy addressing areas of policy, planning and resource mobilisa ion, surveillance, prevention and control, education, medical care and treatment and research.
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