The global effort to eliminate Hepatitis has been gaining momentum, with 85 percent of the 28 countries - which represent more than half of the global burden - have set up elimination targets, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

At the same time, 70 percent of these countries have developed a plan to reach their targets, which shall detail prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services.

Of the 28 nations, more than half have allocated funds for their anti-Hepatitis programmes, the WHO noted during its observation of World Hepatitis Day.

In spite these gains, the United Nations health agency remains concerned about the speed at which these programmes are to be implemented.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus declared, "We need to push harder to increase access to diagnosis and treatment."

Likewise, Dr Ghebreyesus commended the countries' effort in expediting the vaccination against Hepatitis B.

"The national response towards Hepatitis elimination is gaining momentum. However, at best one in 10 people who are living with Hepatitis know they are infected and can access treatment. This is unacceptable," according to Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, the agency's Director of the HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme.

Dr Hirnschall urged governments to accelerate their effort and put a premium in life-saving care.

WHO estimates that as of 2015, 325 million people have viral Hepatitis while 257 million are living with Hepatitis B and 71 million are positive for Hepatitis C.

Viral hepatitis killed 1.34 million people in 2015, a figure that comes close to the number of tuberculosis deaths, and which exceeded that of HIV fatalities.

In the country, some 7.3 million Filipinos or 16.7 percent of the adult population are chronically infected with Hepatitis B, which is higher compared to other countries, according to the Hepatology Society of the Philippines.

The Department of Health, meanwhile, estimates that one percent of the population has Hepatitis C.

The WHO is looking to promote injection safety as the use of contaminated injection equipment in healthcare settings is largely accountable for most of the infections. 

 

In line with this, the WHO has released a new campaign called "Get The Point - Make smart injection choices" in an effort to improve safety in the use of injections within healthcare settings, as well as the prevention of other blood-borne infections.


The campaign will include educational and communication tools.

World Hepatitis Day is celebrated annually on July 28. MIMS

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