World Digestive Health Day 2007 - Viral Hepatitis
On May 29, 2007 WGO launched its annual world digestive health campaign with a focus on viral hepatitis.
Viral hepatitis is an important global health issue as a total of 400 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B, and about half that number are chronically infected with hepatitis C. Together, these diseases are responsible for the majority of hepatocellular carcinoma cases, the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide.
To provide educational tools for global health care workers, WGO constructed an Online Viral Hepatitis videmecum-an annotated listing of the most important articles about viral hepatitis. WGO provides this tool free of charge to the global gastroenterology community to improve the care of viral hepatitis patients and world health. Click onto the videmecum to read abstracts and full articles.
Reports on WDHD 2007 Events Around the Globe
The Asociación Mutual Tiempo Saludable will held a public education event in Buenos Aires on May 29th. Dr. Omar Galdame (Hepatology Section, Italian Hospital of Bs. As.) and Dr. Rodolfo Corti (Esophageal and Stomach Unit, Dr. B. Udaondo Hospital) were the principal speakers. To view the poster of the event, please click here (hyperlink to attached file “Argentina” and for further information please contact the Asociación Mutual Tiempo Saludable.
The WGO Training Center in La Paz held a two day course of lectures and workshops on liver disease, focusing particularly on hepatitis.
Hepatitis B virus [HBV] is probably the most important chronic viral infection affecting Indians. However, despite the development of an effective vaccine against HBV, this infection remains a serious threat to public health in India. Several studies from India have reported a HBV prevalence rate of 3% to 6%. However, these data are known to underestimate the prevalence of chronic HBV Infection for a number of reasons. India has a population of approximately 1000 million today, and assuming a lower prevalence rate of 3%, India still harbors approximately 30 million HBV carriers. HBV is a leading killer among all infectious agents, and a modest estimate would put the number of deaths occurring due to HBV infection per year in India to be around 100,000.
It's time we act and take appropriate measures to remove the darkness by generating public awareness about different aspects of the disease including the preventive aspects and arrest the killer by evolving and adopting the optimum strategies for preventing viral hepatitis B. We must enlighten and convince the government holistically about the magnitude of the problems of viral hepatitis and the need to include hepatitis b vaccination in India's immunization program straightaway as per WHO recommendations.
The steps taken by the Kalinga Gastroenterology Foundation in this regard are laudatory. The Kalinga Gastroenterology Foundation [KGF] has been observing Hepatitis B Eradication Day every year on 28 July [since 2001], the birthday of Nobel Laureate Prof BS Blumberg who discovered the Hepatitis B Virus and developed the first vaccine against Hepatitis B. The two apex bodies in the field of Gastroenterology and Liver diseases in India, the INDIAN Society of Gastroenterology [ISG] & Indian Association for Study of the Liver [INASL] have also come together and have been organizing HEPATITIS B ERADICATION DAY on 28th July. This has boosted the campaign to educate the public about Hepatitis B and to spread the message of Necessity of Vaccination for Hepatitis B to eradicate the killer infection. Come Join the War against Hepatitis B. To generate greater awareness amongst the masses and to give the Hepatitis B Eradication Movement a much-needed stimulus, Hepatitis B definitely deserves a day dedicated to this cause. Gastroenterologists and hepatologists all over the world are exhorted to join this fight and join us and prevail upon others to observe 28th July as HEPATITIS B ERADICATION DAY. It is never too late !!
The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) in association with Yakult celebrated World Digestive Health Day with a special symposium "Focus on Health-straight from the gut". Held at University College Cork, topics included New concepts in Digestive Health, Diverticular Disease, Clostridium difficile: controlling an emerging hospital bug.
The biggest hurdle facing hepatitis in Jordan is shame. Newly diagnosed patients often do not tell family, friends or partners of their diagnosis out of embarrassment and we thus have a high risk of infection. In addition, teaching methods of prevention and vaccination of partners and contacts are another problem. Jordan has plans to institute screening HBV programs for all pregnant women and prenuptial couples.
The Jordanian Association of Gastroenterology, and the Friends of the Liver Patients Society in Jordan, organized an event on May 29 to increase awareness in Jordan about Hepatitis B.
Under the direction of Prof. Wolpert, the Asociación Mexicana de Gastroenterologia celebrated National Day for a Healthy Liver on May 16. For further information please visit:
On June 14, 2007 the Rabat WGO Training Center hosted a postgraduate course on digestive oncology. Professors M.C. Kew (RSA) and M. Manns (Germany) chaired this unique educational event which featured lecturers and participants from around the globe. Particular attention was given to liver cancer and the role of hepatitis in prevention. For more information please visit:
To underline WDHD 2007, several activities are being planned across Portugal and involve many of the Portuguese opinion leaders on viral hepatitis. Hep C and Hep B will be specifically addressed in the National Congress of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which will took place in early June. Several hospitals promoted a social event based on Hepatitis Awareness Day. Pharmaceutical Companies have committed to financially supporting the logistics for nationwide interviews and TV/radio auditions throughout the week. The focus was a massive information campaign oriented to the general public, bringing together the needs and health providers in an integrated collaboration and cooperation.
WDHD 2007 made a difference in Portugal. Not only did improve the level of public knowledge about hepatitis but doctors, public health authorities will be challenged in their noble role of improving patient health.
To mark WDHD 2007, the Slovak Societies of Hepatology and Gastroenterology are organised the following events:
- Special program on Viral Hepatitis during the annual national congress of hepatology (May 24 - 26, 2007)
Read the full event program here ( )
- Monothematic working day of the Slovak Society of Hepatology (December 2007)
- Publishing of the new Ministerial Regulation on diagnostic, preventive and follow up measures in Viral Hepatitis (May 2007)
- Launch of the "National Program on Prevention of Chronic Liver Diseases" (second half of 2007).
It is hoped that these activities will help to improve the care of patients with viral hepatitis.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The GIT Group in Abu Dhabi celebrated World Digestive Health Day by holding a special symposium about hepatitis.
The Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program (HCCAP) conducted many special events and activities, in collaboration with the more than 20 member organizations of the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council throughout the month of May to draw attention to the magnitude of the hepatitis C problem and to raise public awareness. "Our primary goal is to have the general public understand enough about hepatitis C to be able to self-identify as possibly having been exposed so that they are able to seek counseling and testing," noted Dr. Tina M. St. John, Executive and Medical Director of the Caring Ambassadors Program. "We have an obligation to educate people about the potential sources of exposure to hepatitis C, to provide them the opportunity to avail themselves of the treatments available, if needed."
Recognizing that hepatitis C knows no boundaries and affects people of all ages, races, and ethnicities, HCCAP conducts educational and awareness activities in a variety of venues, with a range of formats, and differing target audiences. For example, HCCAP has worked closely over the years with the marketing club (DECA) of Robinson High School in Fairfax, Virginia. With HCCAP's help, DECA has conducted hepatitis C awareness campaigns in the Washington, D.C. area that included a rally on the steps of the Capitol. Together, HCCAP and DECA were successful in getting a Congressional hearing with the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee to review the federal response and gaps therein with respect to a national strategy and initiative for hepatitis C control and prevention. HCCAP has also been instrumental in urging the introduction of federal legislation during the past two Congressional sessions, and will be working hard through the current session for the reintroduction and passage of the Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act.
Lorren Sandt, Program Manager of HCCAP says: "With all of the resources we are so fortunate to have in the U.S., it is truly mind-boggling that an estimated 75% of Americans with hepatitis C have yet to be diagnosed - let alone be evaluated for possible treatment. WDHD is a fabulous opportunity for us to help raise much-needed awareness about hepatitis C."
The state of Amazonas, in the northern Amazon region of Brazil, had one of the highest rates of hepatitis B in the world: 60% of children infected by age 10; 7.4 % of deaths due to hepatitis. After a broad vaccination campaign, carrier rates were reduced from 16.7% to 5.8%.