Jul 28, 2021
The theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.” With one person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness, The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on all countries to work together to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
About 350 million people have chronic hepatitis B and C, and an estimated 1.1 million die each year, according to WHO figures. Both hepatitis B and C combined make up around 80% of the world’s liver cancer cases. But most people with hepatitis B and C are unknowingly living with the disease. Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 has meant that vaccination, screening and treatments have been disrupted and delayed.
As the World Economic Forum (WEF) points out, this isn’t only a health problem; it’s also a poverty problem. Liver cancer and cirrhosis caused by viral hepatitis can affect families in their most productive years and may push people into poverty. There is also the burden to healthcare systems to consider and both the accessibility and affordability of care for those without economic means.
The good news is that in the last decade, new treatments have come on the market with few side effects. As a society, we need to make sure that all patients get access to these treatments and that no one is left behind. But considering the complicated socioeconomic factors associated with hepatitis, awareness is a major hurdle.
Both physicians and patient advocacy groups are critical to building trust to ensure that the necessary diagnosis and treatments reach those most in need. Physicians play a vital role to diagnosis illness and advise patients of available treatments and possible clinical trials. In tandem, patient advocacy groups play a part to raise awareness, educate and give a voice to underprivileged communities. One such group is The World Hepatitis Alliance. Their “Find the Missing Millions” campaign focuses on the millions of people who aren’t aware that they are living with hepatitis to tackle barriers to diagnosis.
Here at Teckro, one of our core values is improving access to care, especially for vulnerable communities. Greater accessibility, diversity and inclusion to clinical trials or other treatments is vital to ensure best possible care for all. Eliminating hepatitis by 2030 is a laudable goal and we stand behind organizations who are making this their mission.