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Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver due to viral infection. It is a major global public health problem which may lead to liver disease and liver cancer.

Hepatitis B and C are two of the most common types of hepatitis, which, if left untreated, are common causes of deaths globally.  1.3 million lives are lost each year to these viral infections.

World Hepatitis Day is celebrated annually on July 28.  This year, the focus is on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and their newborn babies.  

On this occasion, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched new recommendations on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

10% of people living with hepatitis B and 19% living with hepatitis C know their hepatitis status. 

This year’s theme Hepatitis-free future comes on the heels of a WHO study, which found that an estimated 4.5 million premature deaths could be prevented in low and middle-income countries by 2030 through vaccination, diagnostic tests, medicines and education campaigns.

In Barbados, routine surveillance data is collected through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) laboratory. Between 2013 and 2017, hepatitis B cases fluctuated, with more males testing positive than females.  Very few cases of hepatitis C have been detected over the same five-year period.  

Treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C can prevent life-threatening cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

As the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MHW) prepares to roll out its communication campaign for awareness and prevention of viral hepatitis, persons are encouraged to get tested for hepatitis, as part of their routine sexual health screening and to get vaccinated for hepatitis B. 

With increasing concern about a continuous 10-year slippage of a once high immunisation coverage across Latin America and the Caribbean, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbadians must continue to place.

Ministry of Health and Wellness

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