Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Malta launches Hepatitis Awareness Campaign

Malta Ministry of Health launched “This is Hepatitis! Know it! Confront it!, Time for Action! Protect the New Generation” campaign in the run-up to World Hepatitis Day on 28 July.

World Hepatitis Day is an annual international event focusing on patient groups and on people living with hepatitis B and C.

It is an opportunity where health professionals can raise awareness and influence real changes in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

The World Hepatitis Alliance first launched World Hepatitis Day in 2008 as chronic viral hepatitis did not receive the level of awareness nor the political priority which was often seen with other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Such actions aid in the prevention of Hepatitis transmission and advocate more screening, care and accessible treatment.

Hepatitis means the inflammation of the liver. One of the most common causes of chronic hepatitis is a viral infection. Hepatitis B and C are two such viruses that together kill approximately one million people a year. There are about 500 million people around the world who are currently infected with chronic hepatitis B or C and one in three people have been exposed to one or both viruses.

Hepatitis B carriage in the Maltese population is estimated at around 1-2%. The majority of cases with Hepatitis C occur in persons who share needles of drug abuse. Many infected people do not know that they have Hepatitis thus they are at high risk of developing liver failure and chronic liver disease and can transmit it to others. Unlike hepatitis C, hepatitis B can be prevented through effective vaccination.

The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate is encouraging people to learn more about hepatitis and test themselves if they feel they are at risk.

Leaflets and posters will be distributed to substantiate the lectures given in various settings.

Social media will be utilised to enhance awareness while adverts promoting the message of “Know it, confront it, time for action and protect the new generation” will be displayed in bus shelters and places of entertainment.

Through the various media the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate will be able to reach people from different areas and strata in the population to increase awareness and encourage early testing and treatment to prevent possibly fatal complications.


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