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Anti-hepatitis group urges for more investment in hepatitis elimination

(Xinhua)    10:05, August 01, 2019

ISLAMABAD, July 31 -- The Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (CEVHAP) has urged countries in the Asia-Pacific region to invest more in eliminating the global health threat of viral hepatitis.

In supporting the National Conference on Eliminating Viral Hepatitis in Pakistan, CEVHAP Co-Chair Saeed Hamid, the department chair of Medicine at Aga Khan University, said that the group commended the Pakistani government for its leadership and commitment to people with viral hepatitis, and contribution to meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) goal to eliminate hepatitis by 2030.

Pakistan bears the second highest burden globally of hepatitis C with 10 million cases. The national conference, led by the Pakistani Federal Ministry of National Health Services and Regulation, WHO and Aga Khan University, showcased the effort of the local government and academia to enable an environment that prioritizes the treatment of viral hepatitis and improve access to drugs.

Hamid highlighted that reinforced political and financial commitments for hepatitis responses in Asia can encourage people to seek prevention, testing and treatment.

“Asia owns a vast share of hepatitis infections, with one person dying in Asia as a result of viral hepatitis every 30 seconds. Not only the affected patients and their families, but also the communities and healthcare systems are left with a tremendous burden. Recent findings show that out of 230 million Asians infected, fewer than 13 percent are diagnosed and only 2.3 percent of them receive treatment,” said the professor.

Jack Wallace, a member of the CEVHAP and the Burnet Institute, said that stigma of viral hepatitis is a critical barrier for proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease, as well as enhancing the quality of life for patients.

“It takes a joint effort across governments, health authorities and societies to decrease the stigma of and discrimination against viral hepatitis. People living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Asia account for over 60 percent and 50 percent of global infections, respectively, and are in desperate need of proper care, treatment, and assurance of employment stability,” Wallace said.

The CEVHAP is a group aims at providing education on the prevalence and risk of viral hepatitis in efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis by advocating for improving diagnosis, treatment and care for the patients in the region.

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