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Call for free Hepatitis C treatment

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 27 - Doctors and activists working on awareness about the hepatitis virus have proposed to the State government to take a cue from the Punjab government and make treatment of Hepatitis C free of cost on humanitarian ground.

As per a study done about five years back, the prevalence rate of Hepatitis C was 0.9 per cent in the North East. However, it is believed that an up-to-date study would bring to the fore an even grimmer picture.

Health experts have also proposed to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to facilitate a population-based study on those affected by the virus in the North East.

Talking to mediapersons here today, head of the Department of Gastroenterology, Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Dr BD Goswami said they are hopeful that both the State government and the ICMR would soon come up with some positive steps in this regard.

Dr Goswami, while talking about the week-long hepatitis awareness programme on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, 2017, said, �People who are at risk of developing viral hepatitis are the workers in health care professions, people with multiple sexual partners and intravenous drug users. About one-third of all cases of hepatitis come from an unknown or unidentifiable source. This means that one does not need to be in a high risk group in order to be infected with a hepatitis virus.�

He informed that aligning with the World Hepatitis Alliance, the Department of Gastroenterology, GMCH in association with the North East Digestive and Liver Foundation would launch a week-long hepatitis awareness programme.

The idea is to strengthen prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases, increasing Hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration into national immunisation programme and coordinating a global response to hepatitis.

Dr Goswami further added that they are organising continuous medical education programmes for doctors, and are also conducting public awareness programmes in different places throughout the week. The All Assam Students Union is also partnering the organisers.

A rally �Run for your liver� is also being organised from GMCH to Nehru Stadium at 6 am on July 30 to commemorate World Hepatitis Day.

More than two billion people have been infected with Hepatitis B and C worldwide, while India has around 40 million patients with Hepatitis B.

Former principal of GMCH Dr NN Barman, who was also present on the occasion, dwelt at length on the infectious nature of the virus, which is 100 times more fatal than an HIV virus.

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