July 28, 2013 -- For health ministries trying to tackle hepatitis, the advice is: know your epidemic, get government on board to find a solution, educate the population and have the right policy in place
Viral hepatitis causes 1 million deaths a year in the Asia Pacific region, the equivalent of one death every 30 seconds and more than three times as many as HIV. Of the 350 million people in the world living with hepatitis B, 74% of them live in Asia, but getting the disease on the health policy agenda of some of the worst affected countries has not been easy.
"We have a vaccine for hepatitis B and new treatments for chronic hepatitis C that could save millions of lives, but none of these matter if governments fail to tackle viral hepatitis," says professor Stephen Locarnini, director of the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for Hepatitis B at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne and joint secretary of the Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (Cevhap).
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