Wiping Out The Silent Killers
The World Health Organisation, as part of its plan to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2030, is rolling out free Hep B & C treatment to Mumbaikars
Hepatitis B & C, which are the most common one’s types of hepatitis, are also leading causes of liver cirrhosis and cancer. According to a study by the World Health Organisation, viral hepatitis—which kills around 350,000 people annually in Southeast Asia—is only second to tuberculosis on the list of major causes of death. Viral hepatitis is known as a silent killer as it is sometimes hard to detect, owing to the fact that a person may show symptoms that can be confused with that of the flu, or that they might not show any symptoms at all. However, lack of proper diagnosis, unavailability of treatment, and ignorance about vaccinations lead to frightening cases and statistics.
In India alone, viral hepatitis is a serious public health concern, where approximately 40 million people are chronically affected with Hepatitis B, while around 6–12 million people are chronically affected with Hepatitis C. Additionally, based on the number of blood donors affected by the hepatitis viruses, doctors in Mumbai state that viral hepatitis affects around 2.5 lac Mumbaikars alone per year.
Taking into consideration these statistics, it is no surprise that medical experts and professionals are trying to get the hepatitis virus under control. As part of a drive organized by WHO to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2030, free treatment for Hepatitis B & C infections have been made available to Mumbaikars starting December 2018.
Prior to the launch of the national programme, the BMC-run Sion Hospital (also known as Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital) conducted an e-training session for health workers across Maharashtra by means of telemedicine. Dr. Akash Shukla, Head of Gastroenterology, Sion Hospital, who is one of the key trainers of the national programme, says, “While the treatment cost to cure Hepatitis C amounts to around INR 48 lakh for three months in the USA, here, we have made a generic version of the treatment available at just INR 10,000 for one patient. What’s more, under this programme, patients can also avail medicines free of cost.”
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