Posted on July 30, 2016

As World Hepatitis Day is marked around the globe, Hamad Medical Corporation is preparing to step up the fight against the disease with the opening of the Communicable Diseases Center (CDC) later this year. Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Senior Consultant and HMC's Deputy Chief Medical Officer said CDC is the region’s first facility dedicated to infectious diseases will enhance HMC’s ability to treat and manage conditions like hepatitis.

The theme for this year's World Hepatitis Day, marked on 28 July, is "Know Hepatitis - Act Now". Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is most often caused by a virus. Hepatitis affects millions of people worldwide and kills about 1.4 million every year. Most people with chronic Hepatitis B or C are unaware of their infection, which puts them at a greater risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer which is life threatening. Hepatitis A and E are most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route — ingestion of food and water contaminated by fecal matter. Hepatitis B is transmitted by contact with infected blood and body fluids. Hepatitis C is also transmitted by blood. Sharing of needles is the main cause of Hepatitis C infection.

Dr. Al Khal said the incidence of hepatitis in Qatar is very low. Every newcomer to Qatar must undergo the tests at the Medical Commission to detect contagious diseases including hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Also, children are vaccinated for hepatitis B. “The new CDC will play an important role in preventing hepatitis infection through immunization and education,” Dr. AlKhal. “The new CDC also houses cutting edge technology and will have staff dedicated to using the latest clinical findings to benefit patients. It will also work closely with the Hepatology Clinic at HMC for screening and referring patients for further management.

“The CDC will receive referrals from the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and private sector of people infected with hepatitis and will further manage them and work on minimizing the risk of transmission to their families and to the community. It will also work very closely with the Ministry of Public Health on epidemiology and control of hepatitis in Qatar and work towards its elimination.” Dr. Al Khal said Qatar also takes proactive steps to fight both Hepatitis B and C including screening all pregnant women and blood donors. Further, all healthcare workers are vaccinated against Hepatitis B and those in high risk professions such as barbers and beauty salon workers are tested yearly.