Quest For A Hepatitis-Free India - Eastern Mirror
Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Editorial

Quest for a Hepatitis-Free India

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 18, 2024 12:08 am

The Global Hepatitis report 2024, recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), should serve as a wake-up call for India as the country has the second-highest prevalence of the disease globally. The infectious disease caused nearly a lakh deaths last year, there are approximately three crore Hepatitis B patients and more than 50 lakh Hepatitis C patients in the country. Thus, as India aims to eliminate hepatitis by 2030 it should undertake urgent measures to combat this health menace.  The disease is difficult to diagnose on time and becomes fatal due to lack of treatment. As a matter of fact there is no complete cure for the disease as the chances of liver failure, cancer and cirrhosis remain high for persons who have recovered from it.

The most effective way to combat the disease which spreads through blood or other bodily fluids is to conduct tests and administer vaccines at an early age. In India, under the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NVHCP) a program has been launched, wherein free testing and treatment is offered to people. Implementing agencies must endeavour to take NVHCP to the remotest parts of the country. This effort is crucial as the hepatitis virus can stay undetected in the body for a long period and can infect persons that come in contact with the carrier and even pass on from mother to child at the time of delivery. Moreover, hepatitis also spreads through blood transfusions. So to permanently get rid of the danger, no person should be left out of the mission if the nation is truly serious about achieving a hepatitis-free India by 2030.

To reach the goal, it is important to launch a vaccination drive covering all newborns and even adults who have not received it. This is not an easy task considering the vastness and immense population of the country. Although the country has achieved some success in its immunisation programmes, it has not been able to achieve the same amount of success in the case of hepatitis for two reasons. Firstly, the vaccines are costly and secondly awareness against the deadly disease is relatively low. NVHCP is working to tackle the first problem by offering free vaccination, but not enough has been done so far to spread awareness about the disease.

Along with vaccination which will immunise the people against the disease, creating awareness is a potent weapon which cannot be ignored. Parents, especially those living in rural areas should be informed about the severity of the disease and the need to keep their children free from it as they are the ones most susceptible to the virus. It is encouraging to note that despite the high number of hepatitis patients in the country, WHO still believes that the world can eliminate the disease within the stipulated time with immediate and concerted efforts. So with very little time left, India must intensify its efforts  to eliminate the deadly disease in its quest for a hepatitis free India.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 18, 2024 12:08:48 am
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