OPINION: Putting an end to global health’s ‘silent killer’
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
There’s a reason viral hepatitis has been dubbed the “silent killer.”
People generally know very little about viral hepatitis, a disease of the liver caused by five different viruses. In fact, most of the 400 million people with chronic hepatitis B and C, the most serious forms of viral hepatitis, don’t know that they are infected. This enables the infection to go unnoticed, and undiagnosed, until the virus has caused serious liver damage. This, in turn, has resulted in viral hepatitis becoming the seventh leading cause of death worldwide. Together hepatitis B and C cause approximately 80 percent of all liver cancer deaths and kill close to 1.4 million people every year — more than either HIV or tuberculosis.
This silent, hidden evolution has meant that for decades hepatitis has been one of the poor relations of global public health — its impact underestimated, services underresourced and minimal political attention paid. Despite this neglect, a wide range of effective tools exist to both prevent and treat hepatitis.
- Health Care