World Health Assembly Forced To Postpone Decision On Viral Hepatitis

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19th May 2009, 11:21am - Views: 739

World Health Assembly Forced to Postpone Decision on Viral Hepatitis

GENEVA, May 19 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --


    - Global Epidemic Kills One Person Every 30 Seconds and One Million

People Will Die Before the World Health Assembly Meets Again in 2010

    Ahead of the second annual World Hepatitis Day, the World Hepatitis

Alliance today called on governments not to forget the plight of 500 million

people living with hepatitis B and C, as the World Health Assembly postpones

discussion of a World Health Organization (WHO) resolution on viral hepatitis

- one of the biggest threats to global health.

    The 62nd World Health Assembly, starting in Geneva on 18 May, has been

shortened in response to the global efforts required to tackle H1N1

influenza. As a result a scheduled resolution on viral hepatitis, submitted

by Brazil and entitled 'Proposal for the Establishment of a World Day for the

Struggle against Viral Hepatitis and other issues relating to the Disease',

which calls for action to improve hepatitis awareness, diagnosis, prevention,

treatment and support will now not be discussed until 2010 at the earliest.

    Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance explained that

the hepatitis community recognised the need for a concerted effort to tackle

H1N1 influenza, but stressed that global health leaders can no longer afford

to ignore hepatitis B and C. "Viral hepatitis has never been properly

addressed at a global level and the consequences have been disastrous"

commented Mr Gore. "Despite this disappointing postponement, we look forward

to working with both the WHO Executive Board and governments around the world

to ensure that a resolution is passed in 2010 and that a comprehensive,

coordinated approach is adopted before another million people die."

    Chronic viral hepatitis B and C affects one in 12 people globally and

approximately one person dies every 30 seconds, meaning that one million

people will die before the World Health Assembly next meets in 2010. Since

the hepatitis B and C viruses were first discovered in 1967 and 1988

respectively, there has not been a single WHO resolution that fully addresses

the challenges of the global epidemic.

    19 May marks the second World Hepatitis Day, and over 200 patient groups

from more than 50 countries have been recognising the day by asking the

question 'Am I Number 12?' - an awareness raising campaign aimed at

highlighting the shocking statistic that one in 12 people worldwide are

living with either chronic hepatitis B or chronic hepatitis C. While this is

far higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, awareness is

inexplicably low and the majority of those infected are unaware.


    Did You Know?

    - Approximately 500 million people worldwide are currently

      infected with hepatitis B or C(1)

    - This is over 10 times the number infected with HIV/AIDS(2)

    - Between them, hepatitis B and C kill one million people a year(1)

    - One in every three people on the planet has been exposed to

      either or both viruses

    - Most of the 500 million infected do not know

    Messages of Support for the World Hepatitis Alliance

    The following people have provided quotes expressing their support to the

World Hepatitis Alliance campaign for a WHO resolution on viral hepatitis.

For further information please contact

    - Dr. Michael Houghton, co-discoverer of the hepatitis C virus

    - Prof. Baruch Blumberg, Nobel Laureate, co-discoverer of the

      hepatitis B virus and co-inventor of the hepatitis B vaccine

    - Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and global Economist

    World Hepatitis Alliance

    The World Hepatitis Alliance provides global leadership and supports

action that will halt the death toll and improve the lives of people living

with chronic viral hepatitis B and C. Through better awareness, prevention,

care, support and access to treatment, our ultimate goal is to work with

governments to eradicate these diseases from the planet.

    The World Hepatitis Alliance is a Non-Governmental Organisation

representing more than 200 hepatitis B and C patient groups from around the

world. The World Hepatitis Alliance is governed by a representative board

elected by patient groups from seven world regions: Europe, Eastern

Mediterranean, Africa, North America, South America, Australasia and Western

Pacific. For further information visit:

    World Hepatitis Alliance - Seeking a world without viral hepatitis B and


    World Hepatitis Day

    The second annual World Hepatitis Day will take place on Tuesday 19 May

2009, as part of an ongoing campaign launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance

in 2008. An entirely patient-led initiative, World Hepatitis Day in 2009 aims

to raise awareness of hepatitis B and C, as well as extend the political

support for the diseases to levels seen in HIV / AIDS, TB and malaria. The

long-term objective of the World Hepatitis Day Campaign is to prevent new

infections and to deliver real improvements in health outcomes for people

living with hepatitis B and C. The campaign theme for 2009 is 'Am I Number

12?' - designed to communicate the shocking statistic that one in 12 people

worldwide are living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C.


    (1)World Health Organization. Viral hepatitis: Report by the Secretariat.


    (2) World Health Organization. Global summary of the AIDS epidemic.


Community Health World Hepatitis Alliance 2 image

    A picture accompanying this release is available on AP Archive: PRN15

    SOURCE: World Hepatitis Alliance 



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