Muscat: Oman celebrated World Hepatitis Day virtually on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), spearheaded the celebrations themed on Hepatitis Can't Wait.
This aims to raise awareness about hepatitis and protective measures against it, and to promote efforts to combat viral hepatitis.
Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, said on the occasion: "This year, we mark World Hepatitis Day amid the pandemic. It is a chance to reflect on the commitment of our member states to ensuring the continuity in healthcare services related to hepatitis, and reaching the elimination targets in the Global Health Sector Strategy and our regional vision of Health for All."
In 2020 there were 30 million people chronically affected by viral hepatitis in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 65,000 people died of hepatitis and 570,000 were infected by the viruses, according to WHO estimates.
"COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to deliver essential health services, including vaccination, diagnosis and care," the regional director. "Despite the challenges and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, WHO's Thirteenth Programme of Work (GPW13) and Vision2023, we must not lose sight of our goal of universal health coverage."
Al-Mandhari stressed on the importance of vaccinating infants against hepatitis B, preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus, ensuring blood and injection safety, and implementing testing with a view to treatment.