Health Minister Mitcy Larue’s message on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day – July 28- ‘Join hands in this national battle against hepatitis’


Minister LarueHealth Minister Mitcy Larue said this in her message on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day which will be celebrated tomorrow.
The minister’s message reads:

“Today we join the world to commemorate ‘World Hepatitis Day’ under the theme ‘This is Hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.’
“The campaign emphasises the fact that hepatitis remains largely unknown as a health threat in most parts of the world.

“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the prevalence of hepatitis on a global scale is staggering. One in 12 people worldwide are affected by hepatitis.  That equates to over 500 million people. Over a million of these people die each year and many experience reduced quality of life as a result of chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Yet, despite these statistics, viral hepatitis still remains relatively poorly understood.

“Here in Seychelles, there are 342 people currently known to be living with chronic hepatitis B or C (26 with hepatitis B and 316 with hepatitis C) as of March 2013. Many who have not been tested may not be aware that they have the virus, because hepatitis often has no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and consequently remains undiagnosed. This obviously creates an enormous problem, not only because of the burden hepatitis places on individuals at risk of developing liver disease but also the burden it places on the Seychelles health system.

“Since 2011, the WHO officially recognises World Hepatitis Day as a way of raising international awareness on hepatitis. This annual event demonstrates the growing concern about viral hepatitis as a global public health issue.

“In association with the theme of today’s event, firstly let’s know about it. Let’s prevent hepatitis and its related liver disease through education and hepatitis B vaccination. Each and every one of us must make it our own responsibility to sufficiently get informed and access to information, about infection, transmission and prevention of hepatitis. The government funds services to provide education and resources to raise awareness of hepatitis and vaccines to prevent hepatitis B. There are opportunities that all of us can take advantage of, from all services of the health centres, the media, internet, and in our everyday lives, to increase awareness around this issue.

“Secondly, let’s increase testing for hepatitis – both B and C viruses.
“All it requires is a simple blood test. Early detection and interventions are important to slow the progression of liver disease.
“For the second time, Seychelles is joining other nations to make this annual event one that provides international focus for vulnerable groups and people living with hepatitis. 
“Hepatitis is a hidden epidemic with significant public health consequences. This year’s theme serves to remind us that it is a disease affecting and infecting many of our citizens. We need to know of its existence in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“The recent surveys undertaken in Seychelles have clearly indicated that hepatitis C infection is rapidly increasing in certain population groups, mainly people who inject drugs. These young men and women have families, they have their friends and the virus can be transmitted to them as well. Therefore this year, Seychelles is focusing mainly on hepatitis C prevention. For those of you not infected, stay uninfected and ensure you remain uninfected. Prevent yourself and those close to you from contracting it by avoiding exposure. If you are already infected, prevent transmission to others by taking all the necessary precautions.

“The razor blades used this morning … did you dispose it in a safe place where your child cannot get access to it?
“That tattoo or piercing you have been dreaming to have …is it safe? How sure can you be that the equipment being used is not infected?
“It’s little things that may cost YOU, your life or the life of the people around you!

“I therefore call upon all who believe in prevention – parents, siblings, individuals, NGOs, religious groups and other national organisations – to join hands in this national battle against hepatitis.

“Make it your duty to combat illicit drug use that remains the main mode of transmission of hepatitis C and together we shall influence real change in disease preventions.
“Let the international hepatitis day 2013 serves as a reminder that there is much more to be done to combat this silent epidemic of viral hepatitis.”