National
Experts call for stepped-up hepatitis battle
Publish Date: Jul 27, 2014
Experts call for stepped-up hepatitis battle
  • mail
  • img
newvision

GENEVA - The world can beat the cancer-causing disease hepatitis if it raises its game, but treatment programmes need to go hand in hand with those tackling the likes of HIV, experts said.

Viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases known by the letters A, B, C, D or E, which attack the liver.

Despite killing close to 1.4 million people every year -- with Asia the hardest-hit region -- hepatitis has long failed to grab the spotlight.

Ninety percent of deaths are from hepatitis B and C, responsible for two-thirds of the global liver cancer toll.

"It's a no-brainer. The best way to prevent liver cancer or people dying from liver cirrhosis is to prevent and treat viral hepatitis," said Samuel So, a liver surgeon and professor at Stanford University in California.

"If you do that, you'll save a lot of lives and a lot of healthcare costs," he told reporters in Geneva.

Hepatitis B and C are transmitted from infected mothers to newborn babies, by unsafe injections during medical procedures and drug use, or unsafe sex.

"Finally we're seeing some real momentum building," said Stefan Wiktor, leader of the hepatitis programme at the World Health Organization.

Testing is crucial, given that of the estimated 500 million people with viral hepatitis, many are unaware of their infection.

"We also need to make sure there is prevention in place, that healthcare-associated transmission is reduced, that injecting drug users to the equipment they need to prevent from getting infected," Wiktor told reporters.

Hepatitis C, notably, is undergoing a "therapeutic revolution", Wiktor said, with new medicines offering a cure rate of 95 percent.

"That totally changes the dynamic about how we should approach this," he added.

Hepatitis kills almost as many people a year as HIV/AIDS, and therefore needs a similar degree of international traction, said So.

People affected by HIV are also particularly vulnerable to hepatitis, with up to 10 million worldwide estimated to be infected with both.

Advances in HIV treatment have prolonged the lives of people with that virus, meaning they have more time to develop hepatitis-related liver cancer, but hepatitis treatment still lags behind.

"The structure we created for HIV treatment is ideal for hepatitis treatment. It's time that we didn't put these diseases into silos," So said.

RELATED ARTICLES

Army recruits dropped over Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS

Hepatitis E under control, says Gov't

Is hepatitis curable?

Health Ministry wants sh3b to fight Hepatitis E

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
U.S commends Uganda over Peace Corps program
The United States (U.S) government has commended Uganda for its long-term partnership between U.S Peace Corps and the Ugandan people which has enabled Peace Corps volunteers facilitate...
UBOS: census results for December 2015
The results of August national housing census will be released in December next yaer, Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) has announced....
IN the recent past, some members of the public have blamed midwives for mistreatment of patients especially expectant mothers, something that has tainted the image of the midwifery sector...
Regional leaders in Juba for talks on South Sudan
Regional leaders are meeting in Juba for an (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) IGAD Summit on South Sudan....
Access to safe water improving
THE percentage of Ugandans with access to safe and clean water in urban areas has improved over the last one year, the 2014 water and environment sector performance report shows...
Street vending: KCCA arrests buyers, vendors
KAMPALA Capital City Authority (KCCA) has arrested over 20 vendors who were operating their businesses along the City streets. Buyers were also arrested....
Was Oscar Pistorius' 5 year sentence fair and just?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter