The World Hepatitis day is celebrated every year on the 28th of July on the birthday of Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg, the discoverer of the hepatitis B virus. The day is observed to raise global awareness about hepatitis A, B, C, D, E and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Hepatitis causes more deaths than AIDS every year, up to 1.4 million people. Hepatitis infection causes inflammation of the liver, causing cirrhosis of the liver if left untreated. There are 240 million people living with chronic hepatitis B. Hepatitis groups, patients and advocates take part in various events worldwide to spread awareness about hepatitis on World Hepatitis Day.
The historical perspective
The first World Hepatitis Day was celebrated in the year 2008. Hepatitis Day is recognized in over a hundred countries, as a symbol to eradicate hepatitis. This viral infection is caused by five viruses which affects the liver. It is transmitted by contaminated water and food, blood and body fluids and by unsafe injections and sexual contact. It can be passed on from a mother to the child. Hepatitis day is observed by millions of people and each year different organizations select a theme to base their campaigns on.
The theme of WHO for 2016 is “Prevent Hepatitis: It’s up to you”, the strategy with which the world is set to eliminate hepatitis by 2030. The World Hepatitis Alliance has the theme “4000 voices”, which will ask 4,000 people to stand up and be counted for the 4,000 people who are killed every day by this deadly virus. In 2012, a Guinness World Record was created when 12,588 people from 20 countries performed the Three Wise Monkeys action to signify the willful ignorance of the disease. Everyone on the planet needs to be aware of the methods of prevention, intervention and elimination of hepatitis and this can only happen with the day being celebrated every year with new objectives and goals.
How do they celebrate it?
This disease is extremely dangerous yet preventable, so awareness about it needs to be spread globally. Hepatitis Day provides a common platform for all those who are focusing on this issue. The objective of this day is to expand educational areas for immunization, prevention, diagnosis and control. The WHO and World Hepatitis Alliance works with individuals and community groups to raise awareness about the disease. Information about this day is spread through social media, newspapers, posters and through the WHO website. Free screenings, tests, diagnosis, poster campaigns, flash mobs, concerts and talk shows are held. Demonstrations, competitive activities, vaccination camps, speech spots, art exhibitions, diet education are some of the things in which both the masses and health care professionals’ people can participate in. Health workers are informed about the WHO manual to tackle hepatitis E outbreaks. Knowledge about hepatitis vaccines is shared. On this day, new strategies against hepatitis are formulated all over the world.
Special Programs held around the world or in a region
Hepatitis is known as the silent epidemic because of the high mortality rate. Spreading knowledge about this disease, better prevention and access to treatment and government action are the steps to eradicate this chronic disease. In 2015, the CSIH or the Canadian Society for International Health organized around 90 events. Promotional barbecues, information packages, testing and vaccination, guest speaker panels, youth activities and poster displays were organized. Major landmarks like the Niagara Falls, the CN tower, The Ottawa Heritage Building, Vancouver museum, BC place stadium and Halifax City Hall were illuminated in honor of World Hepatitis Day.
How people prepare for it
One time immunization is enough for a lifetime of safety. This vaccine is a must for everyone in order for its transmission to be stopped completely. Thousands of events have been organized since its inception in 2008 as a step to encourage people to take this vaccine. NGOs and supranational bodies like the Médecins Sans Frontières lend their support to this global movement against hepatitis. Anyone can be infected unknowingly making it imperative for each of us to participate in the World Hepatitis Day.