Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh): There is an alarming rise in Hepatitis-C patients in the state. Madhya Pradesh ranks on top in the incidence of hepatitis-C infection. One out of 12 people in the state is suffering either from deadly Hepatitis B or C. There are 400 million people suffering from chronic viral hepatitis worldwide and over the last 30 years it has caused 1.4 million deaths every year. In the last three decades, there have been 400 lakh deaths making hepatitis the top killer. In India, 40 million people suffer from hepatitis B and its prevalence is three to four per cent among the population.
This was informed by Dr Naresh Purohit, principal investigator for National Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme. Speaking to Free Press on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, he averred that people need to watch out for early signs of hepatitis like fatigue, itchiness, jaundice, dark urine, nausea, abdominal pain and weight loss and consult a doctor. He said that 90 per cent of chronic liver illness starts with vertical transmission from mother-to-child at birth but the condition manifests years later. It is imperative for non-cirrhotic people to get screened regularly and everyone, who has an infection, should get an ultrasound test and blood test done regularly.
Dr Purohit said that Hepatitis could be cured with medicines but those suffering from the disease severely should take extra precautions under the supervision of medical experts. He informed that children up to 18 years should be vaccinated against hepatitis and middle-aged persons who were previously vaccinated should opt for booster doses. He stated that in a recent report, the World Health Organisation stressed on the need for decentralising testing and treatment coverage in India in tackling Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
He averred that although vaccination, testing and treatment were available in the country through a structured programme, they were largely centralised in tertiary care centres. Highlighting the inadequacy in testing and treatment coverage in rural districts and tier-2 and tier-3 cities, he stressed on the need for training more healthcare professionals from these areas. He revealed that in 90 per cent of viral hepatitis cases, the immune system clears up the virus. Three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine prevent the disease. Severely-infected cases could be treated with surgical intervention or liver transplant. But awareness among the public is low because a liver condition is not an immediate threat to life.