Viral hepatitis kills more than any other communicable disease in South-East Asia
New Delhi, 28 July 2011: Viral hepatitis kills more people than any other communicable disease in WHO’s South-East Asia Region, but few realize how lethal the disease is. On the first World Hepatitis Day, 28 July 2011, WHO is urging countries to make viral hepatitis a national health priority.
“Viral hepatitis is a silent killer in South-East Asia. An infected person may show no symptoms and appear healthy for years before succumbing to complications of the disease,” said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO’s Regional Director for South-East Asia. “It strikes people in their most productive years, resulting in a huge economic burden for the family, as well as the country” he added.
Four viruses commonly cause the largest number of hepatitis infections: hepatitis A, B, C and E. The estimated number of deaths in the Region associated with viral hepatitis and its complications exceeds deaths due to malaria, dengue and HIV/AIDS combined. Every year, an estimated 8.98 million cases of hepatitis, and 585 800 deaths occur in the Region. Of these, 400 000 cases and 800 deaths are due to hepatitis A; 1 380 000 cases and 300 000 deaths due to hepatitis B; 500 000 cases and 120 000 deaths due to hepatitis C and 6 500 000 cases with 160 000 deaths and 2700 stillbirths due to hepatitis E.