Hamad Medical Corporation ( HMC) will open the Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) later this year which will help in stepping up the fight against viral hepatitis.

Qatar along with the other nations around the globe marked the World Hepatitis Day on July 28.

Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, senior consultant and HMC's deputy chief medical officer said CDC, 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 is "Know Hepatitis - Act Now". Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is most often caused by a virus. Hepatitis kills about 1.4mn every year and 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.

Hepatitis A and E are most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route. 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 immunisation and education,” said Dr al-Khal. “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 and private sector of people infected with hepatitis and will further manage them and work on minimising 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,” added Dr al-Khal.

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.