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The Kenya Forum | WHO Raises concern over increased cases of viral hepatitis - The Kenya Forum

April 12, 2024

Summary

Hepatitis B and C: Hepatitis B and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis in Kenya. They are transmitted through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids.

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WHO Raises concern over increased cases of viral hepatitis

WHO Raises concern over increased cases of viral hepatitis

Hepatitis B and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis in Kenya.

In a recent announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded the alarm over a concerning rise in cases of viral hepatitis worldwide. Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the global health authority has urged for heightened vigilance and concerted efforts to combat the spread of the disease.

Viral hepatitis, characterized by inflammation of the liver due to viral infection, poses a significant public health challenge globally. With several strains of the virus, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, each presenting distinct risks and modes of transmission, the disease remains a persistent threat to communities around the world.

The disease is the second leading infectious cause of death globally with 1.3 million deaths per year, the same as tuberculosis, a top infectious killer, according to the 2024 Global Hepatitis Report, released by WHO at the World Hepatitis Summit.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, emphasized the urgent need for action to address the growing burden of hepatitis-related illnesses. “The rise in cases of viral hepatitis is deeply concerning and requires immediate attention from governments, healthcare providers, and communities,” Dr. Tedros stated. “We cannot afford to overlook the impact of this silent epidemic on public health and well-being.”

WHO is advocating for comprehensive approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat viral hepatitis. This includes scaling up vaccination efforts for hepatitis A and B, expanding access to testing and treatment for hepatitis C, and implementing strategies to reduce transmission among high-risk populations. WHO has also called for increased investment in public health infrastructure and awareness campaigns to promote hepatitis prevention and control measures.

Cases of viral Hepatitis in Kenya

Hepatitis B and C: Hepatitis B and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis in Kenya. They are transmitted through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. This can occur through unsafe medical procedures, injection drug use, unprotected sex, or from mother to child during childbirth. Chronic hepatitis B and C infections can lead to serious liver complications, including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis A and E: Hepatitis A and E are primarily transmitted through contaminated food and water. Poor sanitation and hygiene practices can contribute to the spread of these viruses. While hepatitis A usually causes acute illness, hepatitis E can sometimes lead to acute liver failure, especially in pregnant women.

According to the World Health Organization, the estimated prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), indicating current hepatitis B infection, is around 5-7% among adults in Kenya. The prevalence of hepatitis C is lower but still significant, particularly among certain populations such as people who inject drugs and those living with HIV.

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