Cases of hepatitis B and C hit 325 million

Image Flickr | Sanofi Pasteur

Image Flickr | Sanofi Pasteur

The report contains new baseline data on the impacts of viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), regionally and globally, and aims to standardise understanding of the disease; an essential starting point to measure progress towards achieving the 2030 elimination goal. The WHO Global Hepatitis Report, 2017 also notes progress in some countries, such as China achieving 96% coverage for the timely birth dose of HBV vaccines and Mongolia improving uptake of hepatitis treatment by including HBV and HCV drugs in its National Health Insurance scheme.

"For the first time in the history of viral hepatitis, we have an understanding of the true impact of the disease", said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance.

Viral hepatitis affects a staggering 4.4 percent of the world's population-about 325 million people. As a result, millions of people are at risk of a slow progression to chronic liver disease, cancer and death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged for action to wipe out hepatitis as the ongoing epidemic worsens.

Raquel Peck, from the World Hepatitis Alliance, said: "Today, 325 million men, women and children are living with a cancer-causing illness, despite the availability of preventative vaccines for hepatitis B and curative treatments for hepatitis C".

The death toll in 2015 was 1.34 million people, a new report reveals.

Major improvements have been made with hepatitis B vaccination in infancy reaching 84 percent, which has factored in reducing the infection's prevalence among children to 1.3 percent, according to the report.

Around 1.75 million people were newly infected with HCV in 2015, bringing the global total to 71 million, figures suggests. There are 5 hepatitis viruses causing Hepatitis types A, B, C, D, and E.

Hepatitis A: It's usually caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the poo of an infected person and is most common in countries where sanitation is poor.

HBV can be passed on through unprotected sex and bodily fluids.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

Hepatitis C: It's usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person, commonly through sharing needles used to inject drugs. Some countries reserve the treatment of hepatitis C to those who have advanced infection. The three-day event will be held between 1 and 3 November in São Paulo, Brazil, to discuss how to fast-track the path to elimination.

"But the data clearly highlight the urgency with which we must address the remaining gaps in testing and treatment".