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World Gastroenterology Organisation
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Message from the Co-Chairs

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Viral Hepatitis, B and C: Lift the Global Burden

Dear Colleagues,

Viral Hepatitis causes an inflammation of the liver due to a viral infection. Most cases of Viral Hepatitis are contracted through one of five viruses including, hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D virus (HDV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV). Of the five hepatitis viruses, all can cause acute hepatitis, however only HBV, HCV, and HDV frequently cause chronic hepatitis which can lead to liver cirrhosis and to liver cancer.1

Data from the World Health Organization reveals that an estimated 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic HBV and HCV infection. In 2015, 1.34 million deaths were caused by viral hepatitis, a number comparable to deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV. Approximately 1.75 million people were newly infected with HCV in 2015; while an estimated 257 million people, mostly adults born before the introduction of the HBV vaccine, were living with chronic HBV in 2015.1

The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) will seek to raise awareness of Viral Hepatitis, B and C, through its annual public advocacy and awareness campaign, World Digestive Health Day (WDHD). WDHD is celebrated each year on May 29th with associated events, activities, and initiatives continuing throughout and beyond the campaign year. WDHD will provide gastroenterologists, hepatologists, their patients and the lay public, with an understanding of the latest basic and clinical research in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and curability of Viral Hepatitis, B and C. This campaign will endeavor to inform physicians, pharmacists, allied health professionals, healthcare payers and the public of the prevalence, risk factors, and causes of Viral Hepatitis, B and C. Most especially, we want to ensure that we present an evidence-based and patient-centered approach to prevention and diagnosis of Viral Hepatitis, B and C. Also, we want to ensure awareness of the disease, its management and the availability of treatment is raised in countries where Viral Hepatitis, B and C, is being newly or increasingly diagnosed.

The WGO’s task will be supported by a Steering Committee with a global perspective. The Steering Committee will provide expertise on Viral Hepatitis, B and C, guiding the course of the campaign and the development of the educational and training materials. In collaboration with WGO Member Societies, WGO Training Centers and Regional Affiliate Associations, the Steering Committee will define this global initiative and provide the resources to sustain the effort throughout the year.

Through a multi-faceted campaign, the WGO will provide simple messages for the general public in order to assist them in understanding how Viral Hepatitis, B and C, affects one’s daily life and its importance in one’s health. Secondly, the WGO will develop information for healthcare professionals, both the generalist and the specialist with emphasis on healthcare professionals in low-resource, developing regions. Multiple informational pieces are planned and will be distributed worldwide, for patients and healthcare professionals, in several languages. The WDHD 2018 campaign is titled Viral Hepatitis, B and C: Lift the Global Burden. Through the WDHD 2018 campaign, the WGO looks forward to helping to provide a better understanding and recognition of Viral Hepatitis, B and C, as a global burden. Please join us in ensuring its success.

Sincerely,

Co-Chair, WDHD 2018

Yun-Fan Liaw, MD
Taiwan

Co-Chair, WDHD 2018

Brian McMahon, MD
U.S.A.

1:WHO Global Hepatitis Report, 2017