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Why hepatitis is a lurking global health threat

Diposting pada 26 Juni 2024 oleh admin / Dilihat: 0 kali

Ho Chi Minh City (ANTARA) –

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, as many as 304 million people live with chronic Hepatitis B and C worldwide.

The report stated that 86 percent of the 254 million recorded Hepatitis B sufferers were unaware of their disease. And, 97 percent did not receive any treatment.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of the 50 million Hepatitis C sufferers do not know about exposure to the virus, and 80 percent are not undergoing any treatment.

WHO Global Hepatitis Report 2024 further states that hepatitis causes 1.3 million deaths each year, equaling the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis, which is the leading infectious disease killer globally.

On the sidelines of the 2024 Asia-Pacific International Roche Infectious Diseases Symposium (APAC-IRIDS) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on June 20 2024, the director of the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, John Ward, said that the hepatitis virus had infected many people . emerged as a major threat globally due to the lack of action taken by most countries, especially countries in the Asia-Pacific, in dealing with it.

He said that the general obstacles faced by countries around the world in treating hepatitis were limited funding sources, unequal access to detection tools, low public awareness of the importance of early detection, and problems related to the provision of vaccines and medicines. .

Ward underscored that the absence of necessary action could lead to a spike in the number of people infected with the virus, which in turn could increase health costs in many countries and hinder the productivity of hepatitis sufferers.

Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, a vital organ of the human body, which is responsible for processing nutrients, filtering blood, detoxifying and synthesizing proteins.

It should be noted that liver inflammation can lead to cancer.

Speaking on the sidelines of APAC-IRIDS, Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Federation of Infectious Disease Associations, estimated that one in eleven people in Vietnam is living with chronic Hepatitis B.

In Vietnam, liver cancer is the leading cause of death, with an annual death rate exceeding 23 thousand. What’s worse, the number of liver cancer cases in this country has continued to increase in recent years.

Hepatitis challenges in Indonesia

The Ministry of Health revealed that more than 20 million Indonesians suffer from hepatitis, with Hepatitis B sufferers dominating the number.

Since 2016, Hepatitis B has caused 51,100 deaths annually, while Hepatitis C is responsible for the deaths of 5,942 people annually.

According to data released by BPJS Health, in 2022, as many as 2,159 people will die from cirrhosis and liver cancer, which are the worst conditions of Hepatitis B.

Hepatologist from Cipto Mangunkusumo National Hospital, Andri Sanityoso Sulaiman, who also attended APAC-IRIDS 2024, observed that the actual figures could be much higher than the figures presented at the symposium.

He based his argument on the fact that many people in Indonesia do not realize that they have hepatitis because the symptoms are quite difficult to recognize. Therefore, people tend to ignore the urgent need for treatment.

Often, people begin to realize they are infected when their skin begins to turn yellow, which is a symptom of acute hepatitis.

However, these symptoms can disappear without causing fever, nausea or vomiting. The end of yellowing of the skin does not necessarily mean the disappearance of the hepatitis virus from the liver. In fact, viruses tend to live and grow.

In Indonesia, people tend to choose antibody or PCR tests to screen for hepatitis.

However, it is not uncommon for them to only find out that they are infected after taking a blood test at a blood donation event organized by the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).

In addition, some hepatitis infections are detected among job applicants through medical teams employed by companies or institutions.

In some cases, the results of hepatitis tests are taken into consideration by employers in the process of recruiting and giving promotions to employees.

Elimination action

The World Health Assembly in 2016 unanimously adopted a resolution establishing that viral hepatitis must be eliminated by 2030 through the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis.

This strategy encourages countries to eliminate at least 90 percent of hepatitis cases and reduce the number of deaths from Hepatitis B and C by 65 percent.

Following up on this strategy, the Ministry of Health succeeded in identifying two groups of people who are most vulnerable to hepatitis transmission in Indonesia: unborn children and health workers.

According to the ministry, pregnant women who suffer from hepatitis are very likely to transmit the disease to their fetuses, with the possibility of the fetus contracting chronic hepatitis reaching 90 percent because their immune system is not yet fully developed.

In response, Indonesia has implemented the Triple Elimination Program since 2017 to prevent the transmission of HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B from mother to fetus.

Pregnant women can now be checked for these three deadly diseases by visiting a community health center (Public health center).

When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with this disease, medical staff will provide immediate treatment to reduce the risk of transmission to the fetus.

Apart from that, Indonesia has also promoted hepatitis screening as part of pre-marital health checks for its citizens.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health found that the hepatitis virus is very likely to be transmitted among health workers through blood that comes out of injured skin.

In Indonesia, the prevalence of Hepatitis B among medical personnel is pegged at 4.7 percent. Meanwhile, only 36.7 percent of the total health workers in the country are relatively immune to the virus.

To protect Indonesian health workers from Hepatitis B, the government launched a free vaccination program for doctors and laboratory workers in November last year.

In a worst-case scenario, the government would offer subsidies of around IDR 300 million (US$18.3 thousand) to people for liver transplants, an operation that cost around IDR 1 billion (US$61 thousand).

Apart from that, Indonesia is currently promoting stem cell therapy. Stem cells are the only cells in human blood that can regenerate and even develop other types of cells, thereby allowing the human body to recover 100 percent.

However, in dealing with hepatitis, Indonesia must not ignore the importance of building public awareness of the need to take anticipatory action against hepatitis, such as adopting a healthier lifestyle, screening for symptoms early, and receiving immediate treatment.

Related news: Hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted from mother to child: services
Related news: Hepatitis is a serious challenge that requires intervention: Minister
Related news: Indonesia targets eliminating hepatitis B, C by 2030

Translator: Andi F, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Azis Kurmala
Copyright © ANTARA 2024

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Why hepatitis is a lurking global health threat

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