Surveillance and outbreak alert

Viral hepatitis

Viral hepatitis, which is usually caused by the hepatitis viruses A, B, C and E, is a widespread infectious disease, affecting more 2 billion people globally. In South-East Asia, 100 million people are currently estimated to be living with hepatitis B, and 30 million with hepatitis C. The Region also has an estimated 6.5 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E, and 400 000 cases of hepatitis A, annually. It places a huge burden, from the health, social and economic perspective, on the affected individual, family, as well as the health system.

Viral hepatitis can be prevented by simple measures. Hepatitis A and E are spread through contaminated food and water, while hepatitis B and C are spread through contaminated blood and body fluids. Effective vaccines are available against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Screening blood for transfusion prevents the spread of hepatitis B and C, as does good infection control practices by health workers. Practicing safe sex, by using condoms during intercourse and avoiding multiple partners also prevents the spread of the disease.

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Regional strategy for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis

Fact Sheets

Hepatitis is closer than you think

24 July 2012, New Delhi - WHO estimates that more than 5 million people in the WHO South-East Asia Region will die from the consequences of viral hepatitis in the next 10 years. There are an estimated 100 million people living with chronic hepatitis B infection and 30 million people with chronic hepatitis C infection in the Region.