28 July… what is significant about this date? Do you have it marked in your calendar? You may have a personal reason, a birthday or anniversary but the 28th July is also significant on a global scale.
This date marks World Hepatitis Day, an important day in raising awareness about hepatitis A, B, C, D and E for the 290 million people globally living with viral hepatitis but unaware. The global public healthcare need for greater awareness is echoed by the World Healthcare Organization (WHO) which has recognized it as one of the WHO’s seven officially mandated global public health days.
Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, is most commonly caused by a viral infection and classified by five main types referred to as A, B, C, D and E. Globally, there are over 300 million people living with hepatitis B or C, and these account for 1.4 million deaths per year. The World Hepatitis Alliance is working to free the world of hepatitis, and World Hepatitis Day is one of their key days for driving awareness. For more information on hepatitis please visit worldhepatitisalliance.org and for World Hepatitis Day information specifically please visit: worldhepatitisday.org.
Whilst the need for awareness can clearly be justified, it is worthwhile asking how important are awareness days in the current climate? In a world where we have access to a wealth of information online at our fingertips, and every calendar day seems to have an association with some condition or other, do they still hold a place?
For those living with a condition, an awareness day often provides a valuable opportunity to educate their social circle on their condition, to help others understand their situation more, providing context to a diagnosis. For these communities the sense of belonging and compassion can have a significant impact on how they manage their day-to-day life with the particular condition. For those living with an undiagnosed condition, they can also serve to be an important step in their journey to diagnosis. In the words of Bryant McGill, “Awareness is power. The greater your awareness, the greater your power.”
For the Clinical Research Industry these days also provide an important occasion. Clinical Research focuses on progression and development; this could be in diagnosis, newer treatments for widely recognized conditions, treatments for rare diseases or somewhere in between. These days provide an important opportunity to help broaden the awareness which can ultimately serve to help with trial recruitment within a specific community or more broadly. They’re a moment to reflect on a specific condition and share and celebrate the progression that has been achieved.
Whilst we can, at times, feel awareness-day-fatigue, ultimately we think for the community they’re addressing and for the important clinical developments they have a vital role. Whether you’re leading a whole campaign or just sharing information on social media, you can still make a positive contribution to a community. So how will you mark World Hepatitis Day?
Help shape a better future by spreading awareness on World Hepatitis Day by accessing WHD campaign materials here.