The latest report of Wold Health Organisation (WHO) has rang alarm bells for agencies tasked to contain the spread of chronic hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus. The findings of WHO Global hepatitis report, 2017 revealed that an estimated 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
The disease is proving another major life taking ailment after tuberculosis and HIV as the findings of the report has stated that viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths in 2015, while about 1.75 million people were newly infected with HCV in the same year. The rise in deaths has brought the global total of people living with hepatitis C to 71 million.
"Although overall deaths from hepatitis are increasing, new infections of HBV are falling, thanks to increased coverage of HBV vaccination among children. Globally, 84 per cent of children born in 2015 received the three recommended doses of hepatitis B vaccine," the WHO report said.
The hepatitis report 2017 highlighted that hepatitis-related mortality is rising despite the existence of an efficient vaccine for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C. The report has held the major cause of such deaths due to due to limited access to affordable hepatitis testing by people who are unaware of their condition.
The WHO Global hepatitis report, 2017 indicates that the large majority of these people lack access to life-saving testing and treatment and as a result, millions of them are at risk of a slow progression to chronic liver disease, cancer, and death.
"Viral hepatitis is now recognised as a major public health challenge that requires an urgent response," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General in an official press statement. "Vaccines and medicines to tackle hepatitis exist, and WHO is committed to helping ensure these tools reach all those who need them," the WHO official said.
The numbers of mortalities due to hepatitis is comparable to deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV, but in contrary to mortality from tuberculosis and HIV, the deaths from hepatitis are on the rise, while TB and HIV deaths are declining.