Pure Health, the largest medical laboratory operator in the GCC, kicked off a week-long campaign to create awareness on Hepatitis and offer diagnosis for the residents in the UAE in line with the World Hepatitis Day agenda. The World Health Organization has listed that viral hepatitis remains a major public health problem globally, especially in the southeast Asia region and less than 10 per cent of those infected with viral hepatitis are aware of the disease.
Pure Health will provide free testing to the public for Hepatitis B and C at any of its laboratories within Fujairah Hospital, Dibba Hospital and Khorfakan Hospital. The campaign will run until August 1, 2019.
Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Gurdeep Singh Dhatt, Chief Medical Officer at Pure Health, said, “We are pleased to launch this initiative in the UAE and raise awareness among the residents on the importance of ensuring safety from hepatitis infection. Our aim of conducting this program is to spread the World Health Organization (WHO) message that hepatitis is preventable and treatable. Lack of awareness and treatment leads to progressive liver damage and can cause potentially life-threatening conditions. We will continue to contribute to the welfare of the society to fulfill our vison of supporting the community we are present in.”
“The UAE Government had launched a campaign in 2018 to raise awareness about diagnosis, early detection and the latest treatment for Hepatitis C virus (HCV). This was aimed to help eradicate HCV from the UAE by the year 2030. As always, Pure Health is committed to follow the direction pointed to by the wise leadership of the country for the welfare of the residents,” he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that 325 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis. But 80 per cent have no access to testing and treatment. Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is the seventh leading cause of mortality globally. As per the Global Burden of Disease database, viral hepatitis B and C cause more deaths than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis together.
Dr. Kartik Dave, Head of Laboratory at Pure Health, warned that if left untreated or diagnosed late, HBV and HCV can cause critical liver diseases including cirrhosis or liver cancer. He listed some of the precautions that one can take to avoid contact with Hepatitis virus.
“First and foremost, newborns must be vaccinated for Hepatitis B and the vaccination course for Hepatitis A can be followed through the growth years of the child. We should also ensure that we use safe and sterile syringes, injections, tattoo needles blood products, immunological products; wash hands before meals and after using the toilet, ensure water safety and avoid sharing use of personal care products like razors,” he added.
Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis infection appear quickly. The most common symptoms include dark urine, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, yellow skin and eyes, fever, fatigue that persists for weeks or months, nausea and vomiting and so on. Chronic hepatitis like Hep B and C develop slowly; for that the symptoms may be too subtle to notice or may not occur until the damage affects liver function.
Reuse of injections and unsafe injection practices adds to the risk of acquiring both hepatitis B and C in medical settings. Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 per cent of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; however, research in this area is ongoing.