WHO warns that the world is facing an outbreak of childhood hepatitis "of unknown origin"

WHO warns that the world is facing an outbreak of childhood hepatitis “of unknown origin”

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world is facing a hepatitis outbreak “of unknown origin” affecting childrenand has highlighted the “thousands of acute viral infections” of the disease that occur annually among children, adolescents and adults.

In this sense, the agency has reported that works “side by side” with scientists and policy makers in the affected countries to try to understand the cause of this infection which does not seem to coincide with any of the five known types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E.

“To be most effective, hepatitis surveillance must be delivered at the community level through an effective primary health care system integrated with other health services that address the full range of health needs,” said Dr. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus.

Although most acute hepatitis cause mild symptoms and even go undetectedin some cases can cause complications and become mortal. As an example, in 2019 complications from acute hepatitis A and E infections caused about 78,000 deaths worldwide and, in parallel, global initiatives to combat the disease have prioritized the elimination of hepatitis B, C and D infections.

Cirrhosis and liver cancer

Unlike acute viral hepatitis, these last three varieties cause chronic hepatitis that lasts for several decades and causes more than a million deaths a year from cirrhosis and liver cancer. In addition, they are responsible for more than 95 percent of deaths from hepatitis.

Every 30 seconds, a person dies due to causes related to hepatitis, such as liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer,” said Tedros, who recalled that nearly 80 percent of people living with the disease do not have access to medical care or cannot pay your treatment.

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For eliminate hepatitis by 2030the UN health agency has called on countries to reduce new infections by 90% from hepatitis B and C, reduce deaths from cirrhosis and liver cancer by 65 percent, diagnose at least 90 percent of cases of hepatitis B and C, and treat at least 80 percent of people who qualify for it.

“Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap that needs to be addressed to meet global eradication targets by 2030,” the WHO said, urging governments to increase the use of “effective” tools against the disease.

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