NPHIs recognize World Hepatitis Day

August 1, 2014

By Christy Craig

Affecting nearly 400 million people worldwide – many of whom are unaware that they are infected - Hepatitis has been described as a “silent epidemic.” Defined by the World Hepatitis Association as “inflammation of the liver caused by a virus,” viral hepatitis is caused by five different viruses: A, B, C, D, and E. These viruses cause “short-term, or acute infections….but B, C, and D can also cause long-term infection”, and the disease causes 1.5 million deaths each year.

Recognizing the severity and lack of awareness of viral hepatitis as a global health threat, in 2010 the World Health Organization established July 28th as World Hepatitis Day, an annual opportunity to raise awareness of viral hepatitis. This week, IANPHI member institutes around the world commemorated World Hepatitis Day – and the 25th anniversary of the discovery of hepatitis – by raising awareness, recognizing progress, and challenging public health policy makers to take action to address viral hepatitis.

On the 28th, India’s NCDC announced that ten regional health laboratories will now be established as designated viral hepatitis surveillance centers, the first step in a national campaign for “Hepatitis-Free India by 2080”.

Brazil’s FIOCRUZ also recognized the day, and provided an analysis of the current system of diagnosis and treatment for viral hepatitis in Brazil. Though hepatitis is described as a “silent and silenced disease,” officials are optimistic that with the implementation of new measures to increase access to testing and treatment for hepatitis, the number of new cases should decrease within the next ten years.

In England, Mexico, France, and the United States, IANPHI’s member institutes (PHE, INSP, INSERM, and U.S. CDC, respectively) used the day to spread awareness of the disease through free online risk assessments, posters, videos, and other resources to update the public on the status of their NPHIs’ work to fight this silent epidemic.