World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims to raise global awareness of hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis ABC, D, and E — and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Hepatitis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year.[1]

Quick facts: Date, Next time …

World Hepatitis Day

WHD Globe.jpg

The World Hepatitis Day logo is the global symbol for encouraging betterawareness, action, and support to prevent and treat viral hepatitis.

Date

28 July

Next time

28 July 2015

Frequency

annual

Close

World Hepatitis Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health DayWorld Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis DayWorld No Tobacco DayWorld Malaria Day and World AIDS Day.[2]

Background

Approximately 500 million people worldwide are living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C.[3] If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring (cirrhosis) and other complications, including liver cancer or liver failure. While many people worry more about contractingAIDS than hepatitis, the reality is that every year 1.5 million people worldwide die from either hepatitis B or C faster than they would from HIV/AIDS.[4]

Hepatitis groups, patients and advocates worldwide take part in events on 28 July to mark the occasion. Notably in 2012, a Guinness World Record was created when 12,588 people from 20 countries did the Three Wise Monkeys actions on World Hepatitis Day to signify the willful ignorance of the disease.

History

The inaugural International Hepatitis C Awareness day, coordinated by various European and Middle Eastern Patient Groups, took place on October 1, 2004,[3]However many patient groups continued to mark ‘hepatitis day’ on disparate dates.[4] For this reason in 2008, the World Hepatitis Alliance in collaboration with patient groups declared May 19 the first global World Hepatitis Day.

Following the adoption of a resolution during the 63rd World Health Assemblyin May 2010, World Hepatitis Day was given global endorsement as the primary focus for national and international awareness-raising efforts and the date was changed to July 28 (in honour of Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus, who celebrates his birthday on that date). The resolution resolves that “28 July shall be designated as World Hepatitis Day in order to provide anopportunity for education and greater understanding of viral hepatitis as a global public health problem, and to stimulate the strengthening of preventive and control measures of this disease in Member States.”

World Hepatitis Day is now recognised in over 100 countries each year through events such as free screenings, poster campaigns, demonstrations, concerts, talk shows, flash mobs and vaccination drives, amongst many others.[5] Each year a report is published by the WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance detailing all the events across the world.

Themes

World Hepatitis Day 2011 – Malaysia

World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to focus on actions such as:[1]

  • Raising awareness of the different forms of hepatitis and how they are transmitted;
  • Strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases;
  • Increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration into national immunization programmes; and
  • Coordinating a global response to hepatitis.

Each year focuses on a specific theme. The list of themes is as follows: 2015:Prevention of viral Hepatitis

  • 2014: Hepatitis: Think Again
  • 2013: More must be done to stop this silent killer.
  • 2012: It’s closer than you think.
  • 2011: Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere. Know it. Confront it.
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