CARPHA Urges the Re­gion to take Ac­tion against Hepati­tis

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

World Hepati­tis Day was ob­served on 28th July. “Hepati­tis claims the lives of many peo­ple and puts a heavy eco­nomic bur­den on com­mu­ni­ties and health sys­tems,’’ stated Dr. C. James Hospedales in ob­ser­vance of World Hepati­tis Day 2016. The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CARPHA) went on to say it is im­por­tant that per­sons learn more about the dis­ease and use that knowl­edge to safe­guard them­selves.

Hepati­tis is an in­flam­ma­tion of the liver com­monly caused by hepati­tis virus. There are five types (A, B, C, D and E) that can cause acute and chronic in­fec­tions and liver in­flam­ma­tion, which may lead to liver cancer and, even death.

In Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean there are more than 2 mil­lion per­sons liv­ing with hepati­tis B, and more than 4 mil­lion liv­ing with hepati­tis C.

Hepati­tis is fully pre­ventable and treat­able. There are ef­fec­tive vac­cines and treat­ments for hepati­tis B, and over 90% of peo­ple with hepati­tis C can be cured with treat­ment.

CARPHA rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing tips for pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion: • Prac­tice good hy­giene; • Prac­tice safe sex; • Use only clean nee­dles for tat­toos and body pierc­ings; • Do not share nee­dles; • Do not share ra­zors, tooth­brushes or other per­sonal items; • Get med­i­cal care if you are ex­posed to blood or nee­dle sticks.

Ear­lier this year, the World Health As­sem­bly (WHA) adopted three global health sec­tor strate­gies on vi­ral hepati­tis, HIV, and sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions (STIs) for the pe­riod 2016-2021.

The hepati­tis strat­egy, which is the first of its kind, pre­sents the first-ever global tar­gets for vi­ral hepati­tis. These tar­gets in­clude a 30% re­duc­tion in new cases of hepati­tis B and C by 2020 and a 10% re­duc­tion in mor­tal­ity. Ap­proaches will in­clude pre­vent­ing mother-to-child trans­mis­sion of hepati­tis B; ‘harm re­duc­tion’ for peo­ple who in­ject drugs; and in­creased ac­cess to treat­ment for those with hepati­tis B and C.

World Hepati­tis Day is ob­served every year on 28th July. This year’s theme is "Know Hepati­tis and Act Now”, and CARPHA urges gov­ern­ments, health­care work­ers and the pub­lic to take the nec­es­sary steps to learn more about the dis­ease.

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