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Law providing free vaccination against Hepatitis virus sought

DAVAO City — A local organization here urged the government to pass a law that would provide Filipinos a free medical test and immunization against Hepatitis virus.

Ryan Gersava, founder of Virtualahan, said politicians have yet to give preferential attention to pass a law that would prevent Hepatitis in the country.

“We need to double our work to campaign for awareness as well as to convince our officials to back for the immediate passage of the law for Hepatitis testing and cure,” said Gersava.

Comparing to the countries like the European countries where Hepatitis infection has been 100 percent cured, Gersava said the Philippines has a high number of chronically infected patients with estimated 8.5 million Filipinos infected with Hepatitis B.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health estimates that 10 percent to 16 percent of Filipino adults suffer from chronic hepatitis B infection, and this accounts for more than two thirds of all cases of liver cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the country.

Currently, Senate Bill No. 1520 or the blood-borne viral hepatitis testing act of 2017, which is an act instituting a policy on blood-borne viral hepatitis testing and screening is pending under the committee level in the Senate since September of 2017.

“Because we don’t have the law that will institutionalize the effort, many of the people do not know that they are infected with Hepatitis,” said Gersava.

Viral hepatitis is defined as “an inflammation of the liver caused by one of the five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E.” Infections, toxic substances, such as alcohol and certain drugs, and auto-immune diseases can also cause hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is considered a significant public health problem. (davaotoday.com)

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