UN issues "simple advice" to cut deaths from hepatitis B

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The new guidelines will help medical experts decide on the right treatment. Photo: PAHO/WHO

Lifesaving advice has been published in a bid to reduce deaths from liver disease – or Hepatitis B – a virus that kills 650,000 people a year, UN health experts announced Thursday.

In its first comprehensive offensive against the condition, World Health Organization (WHO) said the new guidelines would make it simpler for medical professionals to decide how to treat sufferers more effectively and prevent new infections.

The disease is spread through blood and body fluids and affects low and middle income countries worst. Daniel Johnson has more.

The UN guidelines cover the full spectrum of care for the disease, from determining who needs treatment, what medicines to use, and how to help hepatitis B sufferers long-term.

World Health Organization says that vaccines and treatments exist for hepatitis B but it can be complicated deciding which one is best.

From now on, however, doctors will be able to make the right decisions based on a few simple and inexpensive tests, the UN agency said.

Here's WHO's Dr Gottfried Hirnschall:

"We have an important epidemic here, we have the tools we need to acutally combat it, but we do have a lack of commitment in action on the ground and at global level at this point."

Among its guidelines, WHO's policy calls for the worldwide use of "smart" syringes to prevent infection from the re-use of syringes or needles.

The development follows WHO's 2014 publication of its first guidelines on treating hepatitis C.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 0'57"


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