WHO Calls for Action Against Hepatitis

WHO recommends vaccinating all children against hepatitis B infection and also adults who are at increased risk of contracting Hepatitis B.

Ahead of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, the World Health Organization on July 23 called on countries to increase their efforts to prevent viral hepatitis infections and to ensure their citizens who have been infected are diagnosed and offered treatment. Hepatitis B and C combined cause approximately 80 percent of all liver cancer deaths and kill close to 1.4 million people annually, according to WHO.

The organization wants to alert people to the risks of contracting hepatitis from unsafe blood, unsafe injections, and sharing drug-injection equipment, as well as the need for all health services to reduce risks by using only sterile equipment for injections and other medical procedures, to test all donated blood and blood components for hepatitis B and C (as well as HIV and syphilis), and to promote the use of the hepatitis B vaccine. Approximately 2 million people per year contract hepatitis from unsafe injections -- infections that could be prevented through the use of sterile syringes that are designed to prevent reuse, according to WHO.

WHO recommends vaccinating all children against hepatitis B infection and also adults who are at increased risk of contracting Hepatitis B; they include people who routinely require blood or blood products (such as dialysis patients), health care workers, people who inject drugs, household and sexual contacts of people with chronic hepatitis B, and people with multiple sexual partners.

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