A medical worker gives advice on liver diseases to a patient (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Various activities are taking place nationwide to improve public awareness of viral hepatitis as Vietnam has high incidence of hepatitis B and C compared to other regional countries.

The theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day (July 28) is “Know Hepatitis. Act Now”, which aims to promote awareness-raising campaigns towards the global goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.

Co-held by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the activities include a workshop to provide hepatitis-related information for press outlets, posting the knowledge on the ministry’s website and Facebook, and a flash mob to convey the anti-hepatitis message.

About 10 – 20 percent of healthy people and pregnant women in Vietnam are infected with hepatitis B, according to the health ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department.

The mother-to-child transmission is a major cause of child infection with hepatitis B, which can later develop into chronic hepatitis in children.

Viral hepatitis is a popular infectious disease with dangerous complications like acute liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer which can result in death.

Among the five hepatitis viruses, hepatitis B and C viruses have the greatest impacts on human health and are transmitted through blood, sexual intercourse, and mother-to-child. While hepatitis D virus relies on hepatitis B virus for transmission, hepatitis A and E viruses are spread through contaminated food and water and poor hygiene.

Vietnam records a high incidence of hepatitis B in children, and WHO recommends they should be vaccinated against this virus within the first 24 hours after birth. Hepatitis B vaccine covered 95 percent of the country’s population and 65 percent of the newborns in 2015.

Though there haven’t been any vaccines against hepatitis C, it can be cured by new medicine, but medication costs are still high.

The Ministry of Health issued a viral hepatitis prevention plan until 2019 in March 2015 with a view to reducing hepatitis transmission and enhancing people’s access to preventive, diagnosis and treatment services. Vietnam is one of the 36 countries having this kind of plan, according to the Preventive Medicine Department.-VNA