The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world is facing an epidemic of hepatitis “of unknown origin” which affects children, and highlighted the “thousands of acute viral infections” of the disease that occur each year in children, adolescents and adults.
In this sense, the agency indicated that it was working “side by side” with scientists and decision-makers from the affected countries to try to understand the cause of this infection which does not seem to coincide with any of the five known types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E.
“To be most effective, hepatitis surveillance must be carried out at the community level through an effective primary health care system integrated with other health services that meet all health needs” , said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus.
Although most acute hepatitis causes mild symptoms and goes undetected, in some cases it can lead to complications and become fatal. For example, complications from acute hepatitis A and E infections caused some 78,000 deaths worldwide in 2019 and, at the same time, global disease control initiatives have prioritized the elimination of hepatitis infections. B, C and D.
Unlike acute viral hepatitis, these last three varieties cause chronic hepatitis that lasts several decades and causes more than one million deaths per year from cirrhosis and liver cancer. Moreover, they are responsible for more than 95% of deaths due to hepatitis.
“Every 30 seconds someone dies from hepatitis-related causes, such as liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer,” said Tedros, who recalled that around 80% of people living with the disease n do not have access to medical care or cannot pay. their treatment.
To eliminate hepatitis by 2030, the UN health agency has called on countries to reduce new hepatitis B and C infections by 90%, reduce deaths from cirrhosis and breast cancer of 65%, to the liver, to diagnose at least 90% of the cases of hepatitis B. and C, and to treat at least 80% of the eligible people.
“Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap that must be addressed to achieve global eradication goals by 2030,” WHO said, urging governments to increase the use of “effective” tools against the disease.