World Hepatitis Day 2014: Think again

Group photo of delegates at the consultation

Every year on 28 July, WHO and partners mark World Hepatitis Day to increase awareness and understanding about viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes.

This year's theme, 'Think Again' acknowledges we do not know nearly enough about viral hepatitis as a health threat in much of the world. What we are learning is that transmission continues unabated in many settings leading to substantial morbidity and mortality.

Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease. It is a serious global health problem, responsible for 1.4 million deaths every year (compared to 1.5 million deaths from HIV/AIDS and 1.2 million from each of malaria and TB).

To prevent and control viral hepatitis, WHO is working in the areas of: raising awareness, promoting partnerships and mobilizing resources; formulating evidence-based policy and data for action; preventing transmission; and executing screening, care and treatment.

The new resolution on viral hepatitis adopted at the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly calls for developing and implementing coordinated multisectoral strategies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis based on the local epidemiological context.

To make the 'silent' epidemic of viral hepatitis more visible and more manageable, the WHO Country Office for India supported a day-long consultation in Delhi on 'Viral hepatitis in India: Gaps, Challenges and Priorities'. The consultation was organized by the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences

This World Hepatitis Day, WHO calls upon national and state governments, all relevant UN agencies, partners and other stakeholders to include prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis in their respective work programmes and work in close collaboration.