Monday, July 29, 2013

Experts warns of a looming Hepatitis crisis in Australia

Australia faces a hepatitis crisis without an urgent lift in immunisation and treatment levels, warn experts in the field. Liver complications resulting from hepatitis B kill almost 400 Australians each year, yet fewer than one in five people living with chronic hepatitis B are receiving anti-viral treatment.

The experts believe that the state and federal governments must rethink current policies to stem a blow-out in deadly liver disease and liver cancer cases.

More than half of the 220,000 people living in Australia with chronic hepatitis B remain undiagnosed. A similar number of people are living with chronic hepatitis C. That's why liver cancer is increasing faster than any other cause of cancer death in the country. More resources are absolutely required both for patient and healthcare worker education, but also to develop programs to try and implement vaccinations and treatment uptake in the infected communities.

At about $10 for each vaccination, immunisation and treatment are much more cost effective than spending thousands of dollars each time a patient with chronic hepatitis B is admitted to hospital. The cost of one liver transplant would buy many thousands of doses of vaccine, so this really should be a priority.

The experts have called for free vaccinations, currently available to children and high-risk adults, to be rolled out to all unprotected adults. The federal government has long been committed to raising immunisation rates in Australia, and it is the best way to protect against many serious and deadly diseases. The federal government spends an estimated $66.67 million per annum on vaccines containing hepatitis B.


Post a Comment