• Tuesday, 21 May 2024

World Liver Day: Prevention, early detection and timely intervention key to protecting liver health

World Liver Day: Prevention, early detection and timely intervention key to protecting liver health

Skopje, 19 April 2024 (MIA) - Statistics show that 1.5 billion people live with chronic liver disease, and 2 million lives are lost yearly. Early prevention can save many of these lives. World Liver Day aims to spotlight the importance of preventive measures, early detection and timely intervention to protect the health of this vital organ, which include a healthy lifestyle, balanced nutrition, regular exercise, as well as avoiding alcohol consumption and smoking. 

This was pointed out by the Gastroenterohepatology Clinic and the Hepar Center - Bitola organization on the occasion of World Liver Day 2024. The global initiative, observed annually on April 19, aims to raise awareness about liver health, and the importance of prevention, early detection and treatment of liver diseases, reads the press release. 

The liver is the second-largest organ in the body, right after the skin, performing more than 500 vital functions, such as filtering toxins and aiding in digestion and metabolism, removing waste products and foreign substances from the bloodstream, regulating blood sugar levels, and creating essential nutrients. Yet, each year, thousands of people are affected by liver disease.  

"Despite its regenerative capacity, the liver is also highly susceptible to damage from a variety of factors, including viral infections, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, obesity and exposure to toxins. If left unchecked, liver disease can progress silently over time, leading to serious complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. On this World Liver Day, it is imperative to spotlight the importance of preventive measures, early detection and timely intervention to protect liver health. This includes a healthy lifestyle, balanced nutrition, regular exercise, as well as avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and smoking," says professor Kalina Grivcheva Stardelova, head of the Gastroenterohepatology Clinic. 

Vaccination against hepatitis B virus, which is a major cause of liver disease worldwide, significantly reduces liver-related morbidity and mortality. Access to health services and screening programs is also critical to ensure that people at risk of liver disease receive the care and support they need.

"As of 2021, a national program for the prevention and early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma is being implemented in the Center for Liver Diseases at the Gastroenterohepatology Clinic. This includes activities towards prevention, diagnosis and handling of the overall treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. The 2022 program for the early detection and screening of malignant diseases provided for funds for the purchase of tests for the early detection of this type of cancer. The procurement of these tests continued last year as well as this year. Antiviral therapy for hepatitis C is also available at the Clinic, which prevents further damage to the liver and the development of even more serious diseases," Grivcheva Stardelova said. 

In addition, a National Declaration on Liver Cancer was signed in July 2021 as part of the EU Cancer Plan.

Vice President of Hepar Centar Bitola and President at the Alliance of Patients' Organizations (APO), Milan Mishkovikj, says it is essential for the country's leaders to ensure that all patients with liver disease have equal access to the best individual medical care – regardless of background, lifestyle or type of disease.

"World Liver Day is not only an opportunity to highlight the importance of the organ that plays such an important role in our health, but also a time to promote activities and initiatives for prevention and early diagnosis. In making a united effort, as a community of patients, medical experts and policymakers, we can create significant change and improve health care conditions for all," says Mishkovikj, as cited in the press release. 

Photo: Gastroenterohepatology Clinic and Hepar Centar Bitola