Viral hepatitis is one of the most underestimated diseases on the planet. It is the eighth leading cause of death worldwide, with the same mortality rate as HIV/AIDS. Over 500 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B or C.
Fighting for recognition
Taking these statistics into account, the global response to hepatitis is baffling. The WHO assigns only three people to work on hepatitis, compared to 98 for TB, and 59 for HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria unaccountably
excludes hepatitis. Nor does hepatitis feature in the Millennium Development Goals, though the highest rates of hepatitis are found in the developing world with prevalence rates varying from five per cent to more than 20 per cent. Viral hepatitis is given disarmingly little attention by global policy makers, and is consequently often left off government agendas. It is for this reason that the World Hepatitis Alliance was formed. One of the biggest days in their calendar is World Hepatitis Day on the 28th July. The World Hepatitis Alliance will be co-ordinating a global Guinness World Record attempt on the 28th July for the number of people doing the Three Wise Monkey ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ actions, chosen to highlight the main theme, as just like the monkeys ignore the world around them, so the world has been ignoring viral hepatitis.