August 18, 2018

Health ministry launches National Viral Hepatitis Control programme

29 July 2018, 05:03 | Silvia Roy

Urgent increase in hepatitis testing and treatment needed

Free hepatitis testing in downtown PG

It often doesn't have any specific symptoms until significant liver damage is caused.

Eminent gastroenterologist further informed that Hepatitis B and C were 100 percent curable and treatable diseases now due to emergence of very effective drugs, saying medicines for the treatment of Hepatitis B and C were available on quite affordable prices in Pakistan, while most of these drugs were also of global standards. The former occurs when the body creates antibodies against its own liver tissue.

Dr Kapoor advises, "Please remember that these infections are very easy to treat at the early stages of the liver disease but once you develop a chronic scarring in the liver, the infections become more hard to handle and the treatment also becomes much, much longer".

It can take up to 50 days after exposure to the virus for someone to become ill, but most people experience symptoms within 28 to 30 days after being exposed. As per World Health Organisation (WHO), around 6 to 12 million people in India are infected with chronic Hepatitis C. Since hepatitis is asymptomatic, it is estimated that only 5% of the people with chronic hepatitis know of their infection, and less than 1% have access to treatment.

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According to Dr. Ruchi Gupta Founder of 3h, "To obtain the severity, type and which strain of hepatitis a person is suffering from, Viral serology is a series of blood tests conducted for screening complete details of the liver".

Revolutionary treatments can now cure HCV in the vast majority of cases.

Fifty-nine-year-old Carol was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2008 after attempting to donate blood. The absence of yellow skin or jaundice does not mean there's no Hepatitis.

"The FDA recently approved a new hepatitis B vaccine". There is also confusion about hepatitis C treatments, with many PWID and prisoners, in particular, unaware of recent medical advances.

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According to World Health Organization, around four of every 100 Indians are infected, amounting to 40 million infected persons in India. Therefore, infected pregnant mothers should be vaccinated early to prevent transmission to the new-born. However, this can be changed and the start is spreading awareness about this deadly infection.

HAV is acquired by ingesting contaminated water or food or having close contact with an infected person or their waste. 15%-20% of all chronic liver disease and hepatocellular cancer HCC in India are caused by HCV. HEV infection generally resolves spontaneously, however, in pregnant women it can cause acute liver failure and death.

A balanced and healthy lifestyle with controlled consumption of alcohol and tobacco is necessary to fight the disease that is an alarming public health concern in India.

On 22 February 2018, the Ministry of Health announced the launch of the hepatitis C field inspections in the remanding 10 governorates, as a part of the Ministry's nation-wide initiative to eliminate the spread of the Hepatitis C by 2022.

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