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Nagaland

Signature campaign on HCV launched in Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Sep 14, 2013 10:08 pm
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Correspondent
KOHIMA, SEPTEMBER 14

ONE month after a few likeminded individuals from various organisations congregated here at the state capital voicing grave concern over the prevalence of Hepatitis C in Nagaland, a 60-day ‘Signature Campaign on Hepatitis C’ has been launched in Kohima on Saturday.
Organized by Kohima Users’ Network (KUN) in collaboration with Hepatitis Coalition of Nagaland (HepCoN), the campaign aims to create awareness and educate the people of Kohima district by way of disseminating basic information on Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), its route of transmission and preventive measures. During this 60-day HCV drive, the organizers will be collecting voluntary initials/signatures of the audience on the campaign banner.
Launching the campaign at the KUN office premises, HepCoN convenor and Indian Drug Users’ Forum president, Abou Mere lamented that people are getting infected and dying from complications related to a disease (HCV) which is preventable and curable, due to lack of awareness as well as due to inability to afford treatment owing to “skyhigh” cost of treatment and medicines for its cure.
He disclosed that deliberations on prevalence of HCV in the society and proposal steps to subsidise rate of treatment provisions with governments at both state and central levels have failed produce desired response. Moreover, the Planning Commission of India, when approached, managed to give only a commitment for creation of awareness, he added. He pointed out the need to advocate for the people’s wellbeing and emphasized that the government at all levels have to uphold the Article 21 of the constitution which ensures the people their right to health.
Talking on a drug user’s perspective, Mere said in the past the society looked down on users and shunned them, but today he is proud that many past drug users have become productive and taking initiatives to sensitize people on public health matters. He said the 60-day signature campaign of the KUN and HepCoN will attempt to sensitize people at the “hotspots” where Hepatitis C prevalence is high.
Medical officer Kripa Foundation Kohima, Dr. Dietho Koza delivered a brief history of the Hepatitis virus. He explained that among the six viral types of hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E, G), type B and C are the more chronic ones and the latter could lead to a fatal stage where the liver of the host individual gets completely damaged. Dr. Koza said that initially the HCV has no symptoms which is the reason why the virus progresses to its more acute stages undetected unless a person with HCV gets tested on time. While laying stress that the progression of the viral stages could be slow, he said the chances of total liver failure are 100% more when a person with HCV consumes alcohol. Dr. Koza pointed out that “one silver lining” is that the virus delimits itself on 40% of the people who contracts HCV. Nevertheless, he underscored the need for all the persons with HCV to avail Hepatitis B vaccine and also inculcate a positive living as the virus is curable.
KUN joint secretary, Ato who gave a brief highlight of the campaign said the KUN will also try to gather as many signatures as possible which will be an indicator for the need of a joint effort to address the issue of HCV and at the same time facilitate in giving HCV a humane face.
He said KUN viewed HCV as an emerging health need with high prevalence rate of infection in the state but left ignored over the years by stakeholders such as the state government, civil societies and NGOs working in the field of the health sector. He cited that figures procured from Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) indicate a prevalence rate of 1.8% (of the general population of the state) within the past seven years alone with a rising trend in number. “This is an alarming indication and a concern from the public health perspective,” he said and further highlighted that HCV being more predominant among the community of people who use drugs (PUDs), the campaign will focus on reaching to PUDs through the drop-in-centres (DICs) in the district where optimum information on HCV can be imparted with minimal resource utility.
The KUN workforce for the campaign is divided into three teams that will reach out to eight sites in the district. Besides the central part of the state capital which will be divided into four sites, the signature campaign will reach out to Jakhama and Viswema in the south and Tseminyu and Chunlikha Block in the northern part of the district.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 14, 2013 10:08:33 pm