Baku. 24 July. REPORT.AZ/ WHO is alerting people to the risks of contracting hepatitis from unsafe blood, unsafe injections, and sharing drug-injection equipment. Some 11 million people who inject drugs have hepatitis B or C infection. Children born to mothers with hepatitis B or C and sex partners of people with hepatitis are also at risk of becoming infected.
The Organization emphasizes the need for all health services to reduce risks by using only sterile equipment for injections and other medical procedures, to test all donated blood and blood components for hepatitis B and C (as well as HIV and syphilis) and to promote the use of the hepatitis B vaccine. Safer sex practices, including minimizing the number of partners and using barrier protective measures (condoms), also protect against transmission.
Approximately, two million people a year contract hepatitis from unsafe injections. These infections can be averted through the use of sterile syringes that are specifically designed to prevent reuse.
Eliminating unnecessary injections is also an effective strategy to protect against hepatitis transmission. There are 16 billion injections administered every year. Around 5% of these injections are for immunization, a further 5% for procedures like blood transfusions and injectable contraceptives, and the remaining 90% to administer medicines. For many diseases, injections are not the first recommended course of treatment and oral medications could be used.
WHO recommends vaccinating all children against hepatitis B infection, from which approximately 780 000 people die each year. A safe and effective vaccine can protect from hepatitis B infection for life. Ideally, the vaccine should be given as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by 2 or 3 doses to complete the vaccine series.
WHO also recommends vaccinating adults who are at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis B. These include people who frequently require blood or blood products (for example dialysis patients), health-care workers, people who inject drugs, household and sexual contacts of people with chronic hepatitis B, and people with multiple sexual partners.