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World Hepatitis Day 2023: Date, Theme, Significance and History

Every year on July 28th, the world observes World Hepatitis Day to raise global awareness about hepatitis. The main objective of this awareness drive is to address the concerning statistics, which indicate that someone dies from hepatitis or related conditions every 30 seconds worldwide. Therefore, it is crucial to have precise information about the disease and take necessary actions. The campaigns and activities conducted on World Hepatitis Day 2023 aim to educate people about the disease and its various aspects.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis virus has five commonly known strains: Type A, B, C, D and E. All of them affect the liver but there are some key differences in origin, transmission and severity of the disease. Hepatitis can be preventable with immunization and manageable, but there is no cure at present.

While all types of hepatitis can result in liver disease, the symptoms, transmission methods, and overall impact may differ. Common manifestations include fatigue, stomach pain, fever, and in severe cases, liver failure and brain damage. However, some individuals with hepatitis may not display any symptoms, underscoring the significance of awareness and early detection.

On World Hepatitis Day, numerous health campaigns and events are organized to raise consciousness about hepatitis and its prevention. These initiatives aim to educate people about the risks associated with the disease and ways to safeguard themselves and their communities. By providing individuals with knowledge and promoting preventive measures, the objective of World Hepatitis Day is to control the transmission of hepatitis and enhance global public health.

About Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. The infection can be acute (short and severe) or chronic (long term). Hepatitis B can cause a chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. It can spread through contact with infected body fluids like blood, saliva, vaginal fluids and semen. It can also be passed from a mother to her baby.

Hepatitis B can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine. The vaccine is usually given soon after birth with boosters a few weeks later. It offers nearly 100% protection against the virus. Hepatitis B is a major global health problem. The burden of infection is highest in the WHO Western Pacific Region and the WHO African Region, where 116 million and 81 million people, respectively, are chronically infected. Sixty million people are infected in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, 18 million in the WHO South-East Asia Region, 14 million in the WHO European Region and 5 million in the WHO Region of the Americas.

Theme of World Hepatitis Day 2023

World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on 28 July to raise awareness on viral hepatitis, and this year’s theme is ‘one life, one liver’. Each year, this day focuses on a specific theme to increase knowledge about the current situation of hepatitis worldwide and bring about positive changes. Various events such as campaigns, seminars, and lectures are organized, inviting people from all over the world to participate and learn more about the disease.

Significance of World Hepatitis Day 2023

There has been much work done towards eliminating Hepatitis from roots across the globe. With World Hepatitis Day, the event aims to raise awareness and encourage people about diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disease. The event has set stepwise goals, such as;

  • Raise awareness about the type of Hepatitis and their transmission process.
  • Reinforce the prevention and control of hepatitis.
  • Enhance vaccination drive against hepatitis B.
  • Encourages global response against the disease.

History of World Hepatitis Day 2023

Initially observed on May 19, World Hepatitis Day was moved to July 28 in 2010. The World Hepatitis Alliance was founded in the year 2007, and in 2008, the first community-organised World Hepatitis Day was observed. This happened after the World Health Assembly decided to commemorate the birthday of Baruch Samuel Blumberg. He was the American physician who discovered Hepatitis B in the 1960s.

World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, is an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public and highlight the need for a greater global response as outlined in the WHO’s Global hepatitis report of 2017.

The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus (HBV) and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus.

Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap to be addressed in order to achieve the global elimination goals by 2030.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • WHO Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland; Director general: Tedros Adhanom.

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