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World Hepatitis Day (28th July 2023): A step to Safeguard Liver against hepatitis virus, prevent your liver from hepatitis infection.
On the 28th of July, people worldwide unite to observe World Hepatitis Day, a momentous occasion aimed at raising awareness about viral hepatitis and its impact on global health. Initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international partners, this day serves as a reminder of the ongoing battle against hepatitis and the importance of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
In this article, we delve into the history behind World Hepatitis Day, the purpose of its celebration, the benefits it brings, and vital information on protecting the liver from hepatitis infections.
World Hepatitis Day was first celebrated in 2011, initiated by the World Hepatitis Alliance in collaboration with the WHO. The date, 28th July, was chosen to honor the birthday of Dr. Baruch Samuel Blumberg, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who discovered the hepatitis B virus and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the disease.
This significant event aimed to galvanize global efforts in the fight against hepatitis and shed light on the tremendous burden the disease places on individuals and communities worldwide.
Aim of Celebration:
The primary aim of World Hepatitis Day is to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and its different forms, namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. The day serves as a platform to educate the public, healthcare professionals, and policymakers about the following key objectives:
- Promoting Prevention: World Hepatitis Day emphasizes the importance of prevention strategies, including vaccination for hepatitis A and B, safe injection practices, and access to clean water and sanitation.
- Advocating for Testing and Diagnosis: Many people living with hepatitis are unaware of their infection. The day encourages individuals to get tested for hepatitis and seek early diagnosis and treatment if needed.
- Eliminating Stigma: Hepatitis often carries a social stigma that hinders affected individuals from seeking care and support. World Hepatitis Day aims to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.
- Mobilizing Resources: The occasion calls on governments, organizations, and communities to allocate resources for hepatitis prevention, diagnosis, and treatment programs.
Benefits of Celebration:
World Hepatitis Day has several benefits that contribute to the global fight against viral hepatitis:
- Increased Awareness: The day raises public awareness about hepatitis, its modes of transmission, and the importance of prevention and early diagnosis. This empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health.
- Advocacy for Policy Change: The celebration acts as a catalyst for policy discussions and advocacy efforts to prioritize hepatitis on national and international health agendas.
- Enhanced Testing and Treatment: Increased awareness often leads to a higher number of people seeking testing and diagnosis. Early detection enables timely treatment, reducing the risk of complications and transmission.
- Reduction in New Infections: Awareness campaigns on safe practices, such as needle exchange programs and safe sex education, can lead to a decline in new hepatitis infections.
Risk of Liver Damage in Hepatitis Infection:
Hepatitis infections can pose serious risks to liver health, with potentially severe consequences:
- Liver Inflammation: All forms of hepatitis can cause inflammation of the liver, leading to discomfort, fatigue, and in some cases, jaundice.
- Chronic Hepatitis: Chronic hepatitis infections (especially B and C) can lead to long-term liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and even liver failure.
- Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Chronic hepatitis B and C infections increase the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a form of liver cancer.
- Complications and Mortality: Hepatitis infections can lead to complications affecting other organs, and in severe cases, they can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated promptly.
How to Protect the Liver from Hepatitis:
Preventing hepatitis infection is crucial for safeguarding liver health. Here are some essential steps to protect the liver:
- Vaccination: Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B. Ensuring that you and your loved ones are vaccinated can prevent infection and potential liver damage.
- Practice Safe Hygiene: Regular handwashing, especially after using the restroom and before handling food, can prevent the transmission of hepatitis A and E, which are often spread through contaminated food and water.
- Safe Sex: Practicing safe sex by using condoms can reduce the risk of hepatitis B and C transmission through sexual contact.
- Avoid Sharing Needles: Intravenous drug use is a significant risk factor for hepatitis C transmission. Avoid sharing needles or other injection equipment.
- Seek Medical Care: If you suspect you may have been exposed to hepatitis or experience symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice, or abdominal pain, seek medical attention promptly.
- Get Tested: Regular screening and testing for hepatitis, especially for those at higher risk, can lead to early detection and timely intervention.
As we commemorate World Hepatitis Day on the 28th of July 2023, let us reaffirm our commitment to the fight against viral hepatitis.
By raising awareness, advocating for policy change, and encouraging prevention strategies, we can protect liver health and reduce the burden of hepatitis infections worldwide.
Let us stand united in our efforts to eliminate hepatitis, ensuring a healthier future for all. Remember, prevention begins with awareness and action.
Together, we can make a difference in the fight against hepatitis and pave the way for a world free of this preventable and treatable disease.