World Health Organization
منظمة الصحة العالمية
Organisation mondiale de la Santé

World Hepatitis Day 2015: Prevent Hepatitis, Act Now


Deputy Minister of Public Health Dr Najia Tariq delivers her speech at the World Hepatitis Day event in KabulDeputy Minister of Public Health Dr Najia Tariq delivers her speech at the World Hepatitis Day event in KabulKABUL 28 July 2015 - World Hepatitis Day was celebrated today at an event held at the Ministry of Public Health in Kabul. The event brought together representatives from different ministries, including the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Ministry of Counter Narcotics, as well as various non-governmental organizations, development partners and media representatives to draw attention to the issue of hepatitis in Afghanistan.

This year, World Hepatitis Day is celebrated under the slogan of “Prevent Hepatitis, Act Now”.

“In the last three years, the Ministry of Public Health registered 54,000 cases of hepatitis B and C, but it is very likely that a lot more people live with viral hepatitis without knowing it. Last year, 19,804 cases of hepatitis were reported, and around 50 percent of these were injecting drug users. We are committed to raising awareness about the disease and are reaffirming our commitment to prevent hepatitis in Afghanistan,” said Dr Najia Tariq, Deputy Minister of Public Health.

Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.5 million people every year. Two million people contract hepatitis from unsafe injections each year, and every day 4000 people die due to viral hepatitis globally.

“Transmission of this virus can be prevented through better awareness and health services with improved vaccinations and blood and injection safety. To prevent hepatitis, you need to know the risks, get tested, seek treatment, demand safe injections and get vaccinated,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative. “WHO continues to strengthen our technical cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health in efforts to prevent and manage hepatitis in Afghanistan.”

Hepatitis viruses are transmitted through different routes: hepatitis A and E through contaminated food and water; hepatitis B through blood and other bodily fluids, and hepatitis C mostly through blood. Hepatitis D is an additional infection in the presence of hepatitis B. These viruses all cause acute hepatitis which is characterized by fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes). Hepatitis infection can be prevented by providing safe food and water (hepatitis A and E), vaccines (hepatitis A, B, and E), screening of blood donations and provision of sterile injecting equipment and assuring infection control (hepatitis B and C).