By Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bounnack Sayanasongkham, Director General, Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Health.

(KPL) In Laos in 2015, over 8,000 people died because of this kind of long term Hepatitis virus infection.

About 41% of cancer deaths are caused by liver cancer.

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis viruses B and C, in particular, are major causes of illness and death.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infected blood, or other body fluids. It can be transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery.

It can also transmit through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injecting illegal drugs.

Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccines that are safe, available and effective. WHO recommends that all infants receive 3 doses of the HBV vaccine, with the first dose after birth within 24 hours.

The Lao PDR has been implementing WHO’s recommendation on HBV vaccination since 2004.

In 2015, 85% of infants born in Laos received 3 doses of HBV vaccine. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infected blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood or blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection of illegal drugs.

Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. People with hepatitis C can now be cured within three months by taking new oral medicines called direct acting antivirals.

Hepatitis can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and managed well. However, most of the people living with hepatitis lack access to testing or treatment. Therefore, we need to ensure that national hepatitis testing and treatment plans include dedicated funding and investments.

Investing in hepatitis testing and treatment prevent liver cancer. Achieving hepatitis elimination by 2030 will require a major increase in funding for hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services as part of achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

Another vital action is to improve awareness of the problem. If people don’t know about hepatitis, they won’t seek testing and treatment. This is why Ministry of Health is committed to doubling its efforts to raise awareness among the public, health workers and policymakers, and ensure accessible and quality testing and treatment services.

Today, on World Hepatitis Day, 28 July 2019, I call on everyone to play a part in fighting hepatitis. Make sure your children and other kids in your community get fully vaccinated. Educate yourself and others about the risk of viral hepatitis and how to get tested.

If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis, speak with a health worker about your treatment. People will get information about all the preventive and control measures of the hepatitis through the celebration activities.

Earlier it was being celebrated as an international Hepatitis C Awareness day by the patient groups of European and Middle Eastern regions on 1st of October in 2004 however in some regions it was mark as a hepatitis day on different dates. In order to make this a best awareness campaign in 2008, the World Hepatitis Alliance has declared 19th of May as the first World Hepatitis Day in association with the patient groups.

However, the date was changed to 28th of July after the adoption of earlier declaration in the 63rd World Health Assembly in the month of May 2010. It was titled as the World Hepatitis Day focusing to raise the awareness on national and international level through great efforts. 28th of July was declared as the final date for the celebration of World Hepatitis Day globally to honor the “Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg” on his birthday anniversary (28th of July) as he discovered the hepatitis B virus.

World Hepatitis Day is being celebrated every year on 28th of July aiming to make aware the common people globally about hepatitis. It is the world level awareness programme launched as a global public health campaign by the World Health Organization to make the world a hepatitis free world.

World Hepatitis Day was established to be celebrated every year on 28th of July in order to expand the educational areas as well as provide opportunities to new generations to get better understandings about viral hepatitis to enhance global public health by solving problems.

It is being celebrating very actively in more than 100 countries worldwide by organizing lots of effective activities.

Hepatitis is a disease caused by viruses that attack the liver. It is a silent killer. People can be infected with a Hepatitis virus for many years without getting sick. However, unless they receive medical treatment, the virus will slowly destroy their liver. They often develop liver cancer. Many liver cancer cases are due to late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C infections.