World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN: Marking World Hepatitis Day, Global momentum needed

Marking World Hepatitis Day, UN appeals for boost in global momentum to tackle disease

28 July 2014

With 1.4 million deaths every year attributed to acute and chronic liver disease, the United Nations health agency is marking World Hepatitis Day by calling on countries to intensify efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat one of the world’s most serious diseases.

“For years, viral hepatitis has been largely neglected,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in her remarks on the Day. “But now we are beginning to see greater awareness and global momentum building to tackle it.”

Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease. Testing is key namely because most people with hepatitis do not know they are infected, as often symptoms only appear decades later after serious liver disease sets in.

At this year’s World Health Assembly – composed of health ministers and other representatives from all WHO member States – 194 countries emphasized how important it is for countries to have comprehensive national plans to tackle hepatitis and invest in effective prevention strategies. These include comprehensive programmes for people who inject drugs, assuring access to safe injections and blood transfusions, and expanding immunization programmes.

As more people living with both HIV and hepatitis receive HIV treatment, they survive long enough to develop hepatitis-C related cirrhosis and liver cancer. WHO estimates that as many as five million people are infected with both HIV and hepatitis B and similar numbers are infected with both HIV and hepatitis C. It is essential that this link be addressed, urge experts.

“The experience gained by HIV programmes in scaling up comprehensive prevention and treatment programmes, improving access to affordable medicines and diagnostics, engaging communities and reaching vulnerable and marginalized populations can do much to inform viral hepatitis responses,” says Dr. Hiroki Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General.

New drugs have the potential to transform hepatitis C treatment, with safe and simple treatments resulting in cure rates of over 90 per cent, WHO says. The agency is also developing new methods to prevent and manage hepatitis B, and is working closely with communities, clinicians and donors to make medicine affordable.

“Increasing access to curative treatment for hepatitis B and C and expanding hepatitis B vaccination, and other prevention strategies, provide real opportunities for us to save lives and prevent suffering,” says Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO Director of the HIV Department.

Already plans are being developed in a number of low- and middle-income countries to rapidly expand access to treatment.

“We are urging ministries of health to ‘think again’ about hepatitis and develop policies that translate into prevention and life-saving treatments.”
In a statement, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov said the shame, stigma and discrimination levelled against those with drug-use disorders must end.

Of the 12.7 million people estimated to have injected drugs globally, around 50 per cent are believed to have contracted Hepatitis C. Those who inject drugs and who suffer from hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS need to be treated in the same way as all other medical patients.

“If we fail to confront these challenges head on, and unsafe injecting practices continue, the health risks are potentially disastrous. Hepatitis C must, therefore, be integrated into the prevention and treatment services provided to those who inject drugs,” Mr. Fedotov added.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Aftermath Of Brexit

Be careful of what you ask for. Now that it has woken up from its Brexit victory hangover, is Britain acting as if it has just won the World Cup? Hardly. More>>

ALSO:

UK Labour Statement: The Shooting Of MP Jo Cox

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party said: “The whole of the Labour Party and Labour family - and indeed the whole country - will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox today. Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity." More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Rainbow Colours On MFC In Sympathy For Florida Killings
Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre will be lit in colours of the rainbow Monday as a gesture of support for the LGBTI victims of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On How Obama’s Supreme Court Choice Says Everything (Bad) About His Presidency

Nothing has epitomised the presidency of Barack Obama quite like his Supreme Court nominees. Time and again, Republican presidents will blithely nominate right wing ideological extremists (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas) who only sometimes misfire and turn out to be liberals in disguise (David Souter). Yet Obama has consistently skipped over the judicially qualified liberals and gone for a succession of centrists... More>>

ALSO:

Turkey: UN Secretary-General On The Terrorist Bombing In Ankara

The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack in Ankara earlier today. According to the latest reports, the explosion in the Kizilay district killed and wounded dozens of people. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news