As a part of the World Health Organization’s ongoing efforts to promote education and awareness about hepatitis prevention, the organization will launch the “Get the Point: Make Smart Injection Choices” campaign in advance of World Hepatitis Day.
“Countries are really starting to get ready to tackle this issue. We hear a lot about testing and treatment, but really it’s also about prevention,” Gottfried Hirnschall, MD, MPH, director of the department of HIV and the Global Hepatitis Program at WHO, said during a press conference. “Major routes of transmission are injection drug use and unsafe injections in health care settings in certain countries. Therefore, the prevention of hepatitis is of course a key element in the response [to elimination] that we need to urgently look at.”
The WHO’s ongoing injection safety initiative has previously focused on advocacy for safety policies and equipment education for health care professionals. The “Get the Point” campaign will continue the organization’s efforts with its third focus of education regarding injection safety for both health care professionals and the public.
For health care professionals, the campaign will provide education about injection safety such as not reusing needles, properly cleaning equipment that handles blood flow and when injection may be unnecessary. Similarly, for the public, WHO intends to promote education about what injection safety looks like and empower individuals to reach out to their health care providers with questions.
Finally, WHO will continue to advocate for more countries to adopt or promote prevention-related programs such as needle exchange programs and national harm reduction initiatives for people who inject drugs.
“For this World Hepatitis Day, it is very clear that if we want to achieve elimination and we want to have it as a reality in 2030, countries do need to accelerate their efforts and really increase the investments in life-saving treatment and care,” Hirnschall said. “There’s simply no reason at this point why many millions of people still have not been tested for hepatitis and cannot access treatment for which they are in dire need.” – by Talitha Bennett
Reference: World Health Organization. WHO virtual press conference for World Hepatitis Day 2017. Accessed July 27, 2017.