Though Hepatitis can be caused by chemical assaults on the liver e.g. the longterm effects of alcohol abuse or short to longterm effects of certain drugs, as well as certain autoimmune conditions in which the body for unclear reasons, develops immune cells that attack the liver, majority of cases worldwide occur as a result Hepatitis Virus infections and emphasis is usually on Hepatitis B & C because of the potential for chronicity (long term infection)/ progression to severe liver damage and cancer. Route of transmission for these 2 viruses would either be via: sharing of needles between infected and non-infected intravenous drug users; transfusion of infected blood; mother-to-child transmission during delivery in some cases or via sexual intercourse with an actively infected/disease transmitting partner. The body reacts to initial injury to the liver, attempting to repair via inherent physiologic mechanisms that eventually fail,leading to more injury. Symptoms include: greenish-yellow discolouration of the eyes (jaundice) in majority of cases,generalised weakness, general feeling of unwell,nausea and vomiting, mild headaches in some cases +/- low grade increase in body temperature. In some cases, infection can however go unnoticed (asymptomatic) and coincidentally picked up during hospital visits for other complaints. In a number of cases, if the disease is not diagnosed via appropriate testing or ignored after diagnosis for reasons best known to the patient,continued liver injury eventually progresses to severe scarification/liver damage-"Cirrhosis" and then "Liver cancer" in a percentage of the infected population,as illustrated above. The result of this trend was a whooping 1.34 million deaths worldwide in 2015 alone,from 325 million people identified to be living with chronic Hepatitis. Imagine the unidentified case figure and do a mental estimation of what the world has been dealing with. Now you appreciate the dire need for testing and identification of cases for onward treatment, as prevention/control of spread would even be defective, if gaps continue to exist in testing,diagnosis and treatment. The Infographic below gives percent estimates of "Testing and Treatment" gaps as at 2015,as well as the targets for coverage,come 2020 and eventually by 2030, if the strategic framework is followed to the latter.
These targets can only be achieved via meaningful collaboration between the public and private stakeholders involved,as well as concerted efforts from members of the general public. The Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis and other policy efforts in the near future will work if as individuals or families,we:
* present for appropriate testing.
* avoid unsafe sexual practices via -abstinence, being faithful or appropriate use of condoms (ABC)
* make injections safe by avoidance of needle/sharps sharing
* insist on appropriate screening of blood products and confirmation before transfusion
* partake in routine Antenatal care etc.
As a General Practitioner & Public Health Advocate, I have registered with the "NOHep" group and made my Pledges stating that, there is NO EXCUSE whatsoever,"as I will contribute my quota towards eliminating Hepatitis" . We must all take our stands and make take vital action to see that,as a global unit,we "ELIMINATE HEPATITIS"!!!
For more details on the Global Strategy and ongoing responses,visit the References below.
* WHO|ELIMINATE HEPATITIS
* WHO|GLOBAL HEALTH SECTOR STRATEGY ON VIRAL HEPATITIS 2016-2021
* WHO|What Is Hepatitis?
* NOhep|A Global Movement To Eliminate Viral Hepatitis By 2030