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About Hepatitis C

Context:

According to the World Health Organisation WHO Egypt became the first country to achieve “gold tier” status on the path to elimination of hepatitis C as per the global health body criteria.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Hepatitis C
  2. Gold Tier Status

About Hepatitis C:

  • Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver.
  • It can lead to both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) illnesses, which can be life-threatening.
Transmission:
  • The virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood.
  • This transmission can occur via practices like sharing needles or syringes, or as a result of unsafe medical procedures, such as receiving blood transfusions with unscreened blood products.
  • It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby and through sexual activities that expose individuals to blood.
  • Importantly, hepatitis C is not transmitted through breast milk, food, water, or casual contact, such as hugging, kissing, and sharing food or drinks with an infected person.
Symptoms:
  • Symptoms of hepatitis C may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice).
Geographical Distribution:
  • Hepatitis C is found in all WHO regions, with the highest disease burden occurring in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and European Region.
  • New hepatitis C infections often do not exhibit symptoms, making early diagnosis challenging.
  • In individuals who develop chronic hepatitis C infection, it often remains asymptomatic until decades after the initial infection, when symptoms emerge due to severe liver damage.
Prevention and Treatment:
  • There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.
  • However, the infection can be treated with antiviral medications.

Gold Tier Status:

Gold tier status is a designation that is achieved by meeting specific criteria and requirements related to healthcare and public health, particularly in the context of hepatitis C control and prevention. The criteria for obtaining gold tier status typically include:

  • Blood and Injection Safety: Ensuring 100% safety when it comes to blood transfusions and injections. This includes implementing rigorous measures to prevent the transmission of infections, including hepatitis C, through these medical procedures.
  • Needle and Syringe Distribution: Maintaining a minimum annual distribution of 150 needles or syringes per year for people who inject drugs (PWID). This is a harm reduction strategy aimed at reducing the transmission of bloodborne infections, including hepatitis C, among PWID.
  • Diagnosis of Chronic Hepatitis C: Ensuring that over 80% of people living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) are correctly diagnosed. Timely and accurate diagnosis is critical for initiating treatment and preventing further transmission of the virus.
  • Treatment of Diagnosed Cases: Treating over 70% of individuals diagnosed with HCV. This involves providing appropriate medical care and antiviral treatment to individuals who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C to manage and potentially cure the infection.
  • Sentinel Surveillance Programme: Establishing a sentinel surveillance program for hepatitis sequelae. This program monitors and tracks the long-term consequences or outcomes of hepatitis C, including liver cancer.

-Source: The Hindu


March 2024
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