MOH News
KSA to Celebrate the World Hepatitis Day 2013
27 July 2013
On July 28, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), side by side with the countries all over the world, will be celebrating the World Hepatitis Day, which comes this year under the theme: “This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.” It has been marked by the World health Organization (WHO) with the aim to educate people about the risk of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes, as well as raising the public awareness thereof.
The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) has long been making every effort to overcome hepatitis, and taking the necessary strategic actions against the disease, as evidently manifested in the developing a national, long-term immunization plan, in addition to a series of awareness campaigns. Within that framework, vaccinations against hepatitis viruses, such as hepatitis B, has been added to newborn vaccination certificates. Such procedures were so fruitful at the national level, that they contributed to reducing the hepatitis incidence. A survey conducted in the 1980s shows that the incidence of hepatitis B was 8%, and ten years after introducing the hepatitis B vaccine, the incidence has gone down to less than 1% per 100.000 people in the under-twenty group. As recently as 2008, MOH has added hepatitis A vaccine to the vaccination list of the National Immunization Program. And the incidence is projected to decline drastically, Allah willing, over the few years to come.
Hepatitis is commonly caused by a viral infection affecting the liver and its cells. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These types are conceived as of high risk, given their high morbidity and mortality, as well as the pandemics and outbreaks such viral types are likely to cause. And it is particularly noted that hepatitis B and C affect millions of people, causing such common diseases as cirrhosis and cancer of the liver.
As a matter of fact, hepatitis A and hepatitis E are often caused as a result of having contaminated food or water. But the three other types of hepatitis (B, C, and D), on the other hand, are usually caused by direct contact of contaminated body fluids, through injection. Among the common ways of hepatitis transmission is receiving contaminated blood or blood products, and using contaminated medical tools. As for hepatitis B, it could be caused by the transmission from mothers to neonates during birth, or from a family member to the child. It could be transmitted also through sexual intercourse.
Concerning the incidence and statistics of hepatitis A, B, C and the other types, in 2011, a media report issued by the Media and Health Awareness Information, involving a recent study by the Ministry of Health showing that 321 persons suffer from hepatitis A, with a decline in the incidence from 10.64 in 2005 to 1.13 per 100.000 people in 2011. Incidence of hepatitis B has also gone down from 18.20 to 15.84 persons over the same period, whereas hepatitis C declined from 11.65 to 8.20 per 100.000 persons. Incidence of the other types of hepatitis has also declined from 5.10 to 0.30 per 100.000 persons over the same period from 2005 to 2011.
In addition, the report issued by the Media and Health Awareness Information made clear that hepatitis A, B, C and E may cause acute infection and inflammation, whereas hepatitis could cause chronic inflammation leading to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver, Allah forbid. These viruses are seen as a globally hazardous risk, given the fact that 240 million people are affected by chronic hepatitis B, and globally, some 2 billion people suffer from hepatitis B, in addition to 600.000 deaths caused by acute or chronic hepatitis B.
Moreover, the report reiterated that 150 million people chronically suffer from hepatitis C. About 3-4 million people are annually infected with hepatitis C, and over 350.000 deaths are caused by hepatitis C. That's to be added to 1.4 million hepatitis A cases all over the world.
So far as the desired objectives of the World Hepatitis Day 2013 are concerned, the report mentioned strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases, increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration of the vaccine into national immunization programmes, as well as coordinating a global response to hepatitis.

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