Celebrating World Hepatitis Day in the Western Pacific Region
The WHO Western Pacific Region (WPR) marked this year’s World Hepatitis Day (28 July 2012) by celebrating the remarkable achievements in fighting hepatitis B while pledging to expand efforts to control the other hepatitis viruses. “Know the Risks, Stop the Spread" was this year’s Regional theme; globally the theme was ‘it’s closer than you think’. Despite its staggering toll on health, the impact of viral hepatitis remains largely unknown. This campaign aimed to raise awareness of viral hepatitis: how it is spread, who is at risk and how to prevent and treat it.
In 2005, member states in the Region committed to reducing hepatitis B infection rates in children to less than 2% by 2012 through vaccination. Great progress has been made in the Region towards meeting this milestone, but much work still needs to be done to stop hepatitis C. In the WPR, an estimated 160 million people have chronic hepatitis B and more than 60 million have hepatitis C. Together, these infections are the leading cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
To celebrate World Hepatitis Day, countries around the Region conducted a variety of activities. These included displaying World Hepatitis Day messages on the giant globe at the world’s third largest mall, Mall of Asia in Manila, Philippines (see photo); opening a hotline on viral hepatitis for the general public and engaging the capital and 21 provincial health departments in World Hepatitis Day activities in Mongolia, and contributing to the World Hepatitis Alliance’s global effort to set a Guinness World Record of having the most people perform “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” in a 24 hour period -- at a football match of 12,500 fans in Yokohama, Japan.