Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare launches an action plan for the elimination of viral hepatitis from the nation. This announcement was made on 24 February 2019 in Mumbai.
Hepatitis is a viral infection which causes liver inflammation. It is spread through contact with an infected person’s blood or when a person intakes waste matter through the contact of food or water that has been contaminated with infection.
The number of people suffering from hepatitis is huge and is a serious cause of concern. There are many types of viral hepatitis known as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, and Hepatitis E.
Every year thousands of people are infected and affected due to hepatitis. According to the World Health Organization approx. 40 million (4 crores) people in India are chronically infected with hepatitis B. Also, about 12 million (1.2 crores) people are infected with hepatitis C in India.
The government of India notified the public that they are working towards making the nation hepatitis free at the 69th World Health Assembly.
India offers free diagnosis and lifelong drugs to people suffering from Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. India is also among the few countries which have rolled out management of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
The focus and aim of the program launched is to fight against hepatitis and to succeed nationwide elimination of Hepatitis C by the year 2030. The government also aims to reduce morbidity and mortality related to Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
Guidelines for diagnosis and management of Hepatitis B was also delivered. One of the focus of the program is also to screen pregnant women for hepatitis B, especially in areas where proper delivery institutions are less than 80%. The government will also provide vaccinations if required.
One of the important strategies that the government will initiate is to promote the use of Re-use Prevention (RUP) syringes in the country. The government along with this also launched an official website for the program.
What are the concerned people saying?
Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey said, “The aim is to eliminate hepatitis by 2030. I am confident that the programme will be successful. India plans to have decentralized health management for hepatitis, which is necessary for effective treatment. An integrated plan is being prepared, with the involvement of doctors, experts, and state governments.”
Shri Eknath S. Shinde, Maharashtra Health Minister said, “I am quite confident that we will win the battle against hepatitis through NVHCP. When the whole country comes together for a cause, nothing can stop us from winning.”
With the efforts made by the government, the treatment cost of one patient for Hepatitis B has reduced. The previous cost of treatment was estimated at $800 (approx. ₹57,000) per course. The cost now is down to almost $35 (approx. ₹2,500) per course. The Indian government has granted Rs. 907 crores for the next three years, for this program.
The government of India, state governments and other stakeholders together will help strengthen the program and also help achieve the goals set.