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World Hepatitis Day 2016: Know hepatitis – Act now

World Hepatitis Day, 28 July 2016 is an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis and urge partners and Member States to support the roll-out of the first Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis for 2016–2021, which was approved during the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly in May 2016.


The new strategy introduces the first-ever global targets for viral hepatitis. These include a 30% reduction in new cases of hepatitis B and C, and a 10% reduction in mortality by 2020.

Key approaches will be to expand vaccination programmes for hepatitis B; focus on preventing mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B; improve injection, blood and surgical safety; “harm reduction” services for people who inject drugs; and increase access to diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis B and C.


Read the Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2016-2021

World Hepatitis Day – 28 July 2016

Know hepatitis – Act now

On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July 2016, WHO calls on policy-makers, health workers and the public to “Know hepatitis – Act now”.

The Organization urges them to inform themselves about the infection, take positive action to know their status by getting tested, and finally seek treatment to reduce needless deaths from this preventable and treatable infection.

Activities will take place around the world to improve public knowledge of the risk of hepatitis, and enhance access to hepatitis testing and treatment services.

Know hepatitis – Are you at risk?

Viral hepatitis affects 400 million people globally and, given the size of the epidemic, anyone and everyone can be at risk.

Know hepatitis – Get tested

An estimated 95% of people with hepatitis are unaware of their infection. Hepatitis tests are complex and can be costly, with poor laboratory capacity in many countries.

Know hepatitis – Demand treatment

Globally, lack of awareness, and poor access to hepatitis treatment services mean that most people who need treatment do not receive it.

Over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be completely cured of the virus within 3–6 months.

Appropriate treatment of hepatitis B and C can prevent the development of the major life-threatening complications of chronic liver disease: cirrhosis and liver cancer.

WHO advises that by scaling up treatment, 7 million lives can be saved between 2015 and 2030, with communities benefiting from economic gains.

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ICAN Chair Comment – Professor Shaheen Mehtar

There are several ways to prevent transmission of hepatitis B and C (blood borne viruses) but from an IPC point of view the most important one is education of the public. The public should know, and understand, that they are entitled to a sterile needle and syringe each time they have an injection- “one-person-one-needle- and -syringe”!!. As a reminder, the extensive spread of hepatitis C in Egypt was attributed to the use of the same syringe, and sometimes needle, between patients during mass  treatment for schistosomiasis. Equally, outbreaks of hepatitis C have been reported from the United States of American because of the use of multi-dose vials. The safe discard of needles and syringes in robust containers which should be incinerated to avoid contact during scavenging at landfill sites must be a priority. Finally, hepatitis B immunisation is extremely effective and should be given to all healthcare workers, infants and adult population at risk.

In low to middle income countries the inadequate decontamination of reprocessed medical devices used in surgery also poses an unacceptable risk.

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