25 Jul 2012, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: The World Hepatitis Alliance have welcomed the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) framework for hepatitis as the global patient community marks World Hepatitis Day. 'Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis Infection: Framework for Global Action' provides a global vision for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis and outlines four axes for action for regions and countries to develop effective strategies and plans according to their specific hepatitis burden and challenges.
"Hepatitis is closer than you think, with approximately one in 12 people living with either hepatitis B or C globally," said Mr Charles Gore, president of the alliance. "The launch of the WHO Framework is an essential step in the fight against this global epidemic."
The launch of the framework comes two years after the agreement of a historic World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on viral hepatitis (WHA63.18) which for the first time described what is expected of governments to deliver improvements in awareness, surveillance, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis. In line with this resolution, the WHO Secretariat established a Global Hepatitis Programme within its Department of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases, with focal points in the six Regional Offices, to implement the resolution and attain the goals outlined in the new Framework.
Continues Mr Gore, "With the WHA resolution, and now the WHO Framework for Action, we are gaining momentum in the fight against hepatitis but more must be done to raise awareness of this killer disease. The challenge for governments now is to action this new Framework. It is critical that specific targets are set at a regional level to ensure measurable results."
World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity for communities all around the world to join together to raise awareness of hepatitis and importantly promote actions to confront it. To mark World Hepatitis Day 2012, the alliance has launched a global effort to attempt a Guinness World Record highlighting the huge under-diagnosis of hepatitis. The aim is to have the most people performing the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" actions in 24 hours at multiple venues around the world. Countries currently participating in the record attempt include: Germany, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Malaysia, India, Romania, China, Ukraine, Canada and Japan.
Approximately, 500 million people are living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C worldwide. If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring (cirrhosis) and other complications, including liver cancer or liver failure. Together, hepatitis B and C kill approximately one million people every year.