In a bid to eliminate viral hepatitis which is recognized as a word-wide threat, a national action plan was recently launched in Mumbai.
The National Action Plan – Viral Hepatitis was launched by the Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey in presence of Amitabh Bachchan, the goodwill ambassador for hepatitis, WHO South-East Asia Region.
“The action plan takes forward the National Viral Hepatitis Control Program launched by the Union Health Minister in July 2018. The aim is to eliminate hepatitis by 2030,” Choubey said.
“This programme is also in line with our global commitment towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3. India has affirmed this commitment at the 69th World Health Assembly,” he further stated.
The minister also released the Technical Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Hepatitis B on this occasion.
Underscoring the need to combat the disease, Bachchan, said, “I am here today because I am a Hepatitis B victim. While shooting for the film Coolie, I got injured and required a lot of blood; the blood given by 200 donors saved my life, but one of the donors was carrying the Hepatitis B virus.”
“The detection process for that virus was not in order at that time, and that went into my system. This was discovered only in 2005, when I came to know that 75 per cent of my liver had been destroyed. I am a living example of a Hepatitis B victim,” he further stated.
The disease caused 1.34 million deaths globally in 2015
According to WHO estimates, viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths globally in 2015, a number comparable to deaths due to tuberculosis, worldwide.
In India, it is estimated that there are 4 crore people suffering from Hepatitis B and 0.6-1.2 crore people suffering from Hepatitis C, a ministry statement said.
Focus under the programme is on screening of pregnant women for hepatitis B, in places where institutional delivery is less than 80 pc, to ensure provision of birth dose Hepatitis B vaccination and
Hepatitis B immunoglobulin, if required, the statement said.
Another important strategy adopted by the programme is propagating the use of Re-use Prevention (RUP) syringes in the country.
The National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NVHCP) website was also launched on the occasion.