Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Neglecting Hepatitis

Globally, 1.34 million people die of viral hepatitis every year, a death toll as high as that of HIV/AIDS related diseases. Today we face the perverse situation where an antiretroviral drug is available for free to people living with HIV, but people living with chronic hepatitis B have to pay for it.

With over 70% of these deaths occurring in Asia Pacific. Unless the large gaps in healthcare systems and policies are addressed, the goal of eradicating this deadly but entirely preventable disease by 2030 will be impossible to achieve.

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Hepatitis Report, only 9% of people living with hepatitis B and 20% of people living with hepatitis C have been tested and are aware of their status. The big challenge is identifying who is at risk of developing liver disease, and ensuring that they can access effective medical care. Only 40% of the 15 countries surveyed have made treatment accessible in all parts of the country with many still required to pay for care. 

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