NEW DELHI, July 31 - A Manipur-based NGO is among five finalists chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) from across the world to offer their suggestions on the first ever Hepatitis testing guidelines to be brought out by the global body soon.
With 95 per cent of the people infected with Hepatitis B or C unaware about it globally, WHO had on Wednesday termed increased access to its testing as the �key� to scaling up treatment. It also announced that it would release Hepatitis testing guidelines later this year.
Earlier this year, WHO, in collaboration with the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and the Social Entrepreneurship for Sexual Health, conducted a contest to identify innovative approaches to deliver Hepatitis testing services.
�Sixty-seven organisations from 23 countries participated in the contest and five finalists were selected. Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), an NGO based in Manipur is one of these finalists,� WHO said on World Hepatitis Day yesterday.
The contest was to find real-world examples of innovative ways to reach different populations across various countries and settings.
In collaboration with the Directorate of Health Services, Manipur, and a generic pharmaceutical company, CoNE initiated Hepatitis testing camps as a part of an awareness-raising campaign in all nine districts of the State.
It tested over 1,000 participants and linked those who had chronic hepatitis to care and treatment.
�We organised awareness-raising sessions and encouraged free voluntary testing for over a month. Of the 1,011 people tested, just under half were positive for Hepatitis C.
�We provided post-test counselling and were also able to offer treatment,� the WHO international website quoted Rajkumar Nalinikanta, the organisation�s president as saying.
WHO India said that hepatitis guidelines are largely decided by expert clinicians with limited attention to implementation and community action. However, innovation contests can be used to solicit non-expert, community input into guidelines.
�An innovation contest was organised to solicit descriptions of Hepatitis B and C testing models that could potentially inform WHO Hepatitis Testing Guidelines.
�Thirty entries were exceptional and approved by the WHO Guidelines Development Group to be directly included in the WHO Hepatitis Testing Guidelines,� WHO said.
Viral Hepatitis kills more than three lakh people every year in South East Asian region, including India.
In the South-East Asia region, viral Hepatitis is driving rates of liver cancer and cirrhosis and is causing premature death and disease with over 100 million people chronically infected with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, had on Wednesday said the disease is responsible for more deaths than those caused by HIV and malaria put together, and is second only to tuberculosis as a major cause of death among communicable diseases.
�Globally, and in the region, the number of deaths due to viral Hepatitis are increasing. There is a need for immediate and urgent action to arrest the spread of Hepatitis,� Singh said. � PTI