WHO: Western Pacific sees disproportionate amount of Hepatitis B cases

The World Health Organization said on Friday that the Western Pacific bears a disproportionately high burden of the world's hepatitis B virus (HBV) cases.

The region is home to approximately one quarter of the world's population while accounting for approximately half of all HBV cases, according to a WHO pressrelease.

"Given the high endemicity of viral hepatitis in the region-especially hepatitis B and C-we need to increase focus on prevention and screening, but also redouble our efforts in the treatment of those already infected," Shin Young-soo, the WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific, said.

Most countries in the region have chronic HBV infections of more than 6 percent among adults.

The World Health Assembly identified viral hepatitis as a global health problem in 2014 and called on governments to take action, including the implementation of an integrated approach for prevention, control and management of the disease.

Hepatitis B and C account for approximately 90 percent of all deaths related to viral hepatitis every year. Approximately 78 percent of all liver cancer cases and 57 percent of cirrhosis cases are attributed to chronic hepatitis infections.

The WHO estimates that approximately 500 million people worldwide are affected by chronic hepatitis B and C.