IMPHAL, Aug 1 - In the first development of its kind in the country, health authorities in Manipur have released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in line with national guidelines for prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of Hepatitis C.
Two model treatment centres for free treatment of Hepatitis C were also opened at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) located here on Sunday. With the opening of these two centres, people can avail of free test and treatment, which were not available in the past.
Earlier, the treatment of Hepatitis C cost above Rs 2 lakh, Prof Kh Lokeshwar Singh of the JNIMS said.
The Manipur-based Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), a network of community-based organisations, developed the first form of the SOP in the State and later, it was finalised after several rounds of meetings with experts, including those from the World Health Organisation.
�We hope that there will be uniformity in treatment of heptatitis in the State once the SOP is implemented. This will also set a framework for physicians to follow public health procedures to address Hepatitis C,� said CoNE president RK Nalikanta. At the same time, access to the treatment centres can be increased, he added.
Hepatitis B and C are liver diseases caused by the hepatitis virus and they affect five out of 100 people globally, JNIMS gastroenterologist Dr N Suraj said. But 80 percent of the people are not aware of the disease, which is a �silent killer�.
Though there is paucity of population-based studies, some studies suggest that Hepatitis C prevalence among people who inject drugs is 74 per cent in Manipur.
Hepatitis B can be prevented, while antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 per cent of Hepatitis C infection, Dr Suraj said. �So we need to detect the disease first and start vaccination,� he stressed. Currently, only about 50 per cent of newborn babies have been vaccinated against the target of 90 per cent, he pointed out.