The state Health Department in East Malaysia aims to screen and educate more people on viral hepatitis during the statewide World Hepatitis Day 2013 celebration at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu on Friday.
The virus, which can cause inflammation of the liver, is 100 times more virulent than the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is important for the people to know their status at an early stage as carriers usually will not show any symptom. Patients will come to hospital only when the virus has caused irreversible liver failure or cancer. The cases related to hepatitis had increased the financial burden on the state.
The hospital will take action for those who test positive based on an individual's condition. The planning involves monitoring, vaccination and medication to prevent deterioration. The hospital also proposes to screen patients' relatives as the disease was usually transmitted from mothers to children during childbirth.
Other high-risk groups are health workers and blood recipients who are frequently exposed to contaminated blood products as well as syringes. The health ministry hoped to wipe out the disease over a period of time, particularly hepatitis B as there is a vaccine for hepatitis B.
The state Health Department will start a registry next year to monitor and record incidence of hepatitis cases in the state.
World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 worldwide in partnership with the World Health Organisation. The theme this year is "This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it".