Poverty and disease are closely intertwined. Unlike developed countries that are well-resourced, those living in poorer countries have a much higher risk of infection since they lack public health facilities and have very limited resources for disease education and prevention. Also, poor patients simply cannot afford expensive treatment and medication; some just have to watch their lives ticking away. Disease could take lives, but unaffordable medication could also be an invisible accomplice to the poor.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), viral hepatitis is a silent killer that claims close to 1.4 million lives every year. There are five different hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, which can lead to acute or chronic liver diseases. In poor developing countries, chronic hepatitis B and C are among the major threats. Over 150 million people globally are infected with hepatitis C and more than 240 million with hepatitis B, mainly located in Asia and Africa.
World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year. Although there are new and effective cures for hepatitis developed in recent years, their prices are high and unaffordable, thus becoming the biggest obstacle for cure of hepatitis. In 2014, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis. Apart from acknowledging the effectiveness of the new cures for chronic hepatitis B and C, the Assembly also appeals to the international community to improve access to quality and affordable hepatitis medicines and diagnostics, as part of the effort to knock down the twin pillars of poverty and disease.
“Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Psalm 30:10-12 (NIV)
Pray for patients in poor countries:
Lord, we pray for your mercy upon the people suffering from disease and poverty, especially those who can’t access treatment due to unaffordable medication. May you hear their cries, and grant wisdom and compassion to policy makers so that they can better understand the needs of patients and help to improve access to quality medication and treatment.