Global Health & Medicine 2021;3(5):301-307.
Nationwide awareness-raising program for viral hepatitis in Japan: the "Shitte kan-en" project
Takeuchi Y, Ohara M, Kanto T
Chronic viral hepatitis is one of the most widespread infectious diseases in Japan. In the 2009 financial year, the Japanese government enacted the Basic Act on Hepatitis Measures, followed by the Basic Guidelines for Promotion of Control Measures for Hepatitis 2 years later. The guidelines emphasize the importance of provision and dissemination of accurate information on viral hepatitis and public awareness-raising. A subsidy program on hepatitis was therefore launched by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2011, called "Shitte kan-en" (in English, "Let's learn about hepatitis"), and involves popular Japanese actors and singers. The project started awareness-raising activities in the 2013 financial year, as the "National Campaign Project for Hepatitis Measures". It aims to communicate concise and accurate information about hepatitis and the necessity of testing for viral hepatitis. It also encourages citizens to take a positive approach to early detection and treatment. To date, the main initiatives of the project are as follows: i) celebrity visits to prefectural governors to draw attention to the condition, ii) educational events in cooperation with hepatologists in regional core hospitals, iii) support for partner companies' hepatitis awareness activities in workplaces, and iv) support for the activities of program promoters. Targeting approaches to particular groups is likely to be key to success for general awareness-raising. Evaluation of the effectiveness of this multifaceted approach is warranted to reduce the undiagnosed population and improve the link between testing and care for viral hepatitis in Japan.