The State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) has directed all blood banks to notify Hepatitis B and C tests conducted at the centres and asked for reports to be uploaded on the National Viral Hepatitis Control Program (NVHCP) portal by the 5th of every month.
The blood banks have also been directed to counsel all old and new Hepatitis B and C blood donors before being referred to NVHCP for further treatment. NVHCP has been launched for countrywide eradication of Hepatitis C by 2030. In Maharashtra, it’s present in 35 districts and nine model treatment centres (MTC) and 27 treatment centres (TC) have been set up.
Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids such as blood or invasive medical procedures and contaminated equipment. Hepatitis B and C infections are the most common causes of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
SBTC Assistant Director Dr Arun Thorat said these measures have been taken to reach out to blood donors unknowingly living with hepatitis. He said, “Screening reports are expected to be uploaded on the NVHCP portal every month. We will hold a monthly review meeting to analyse the reports.”
Significant number of patients make up for liver cancer in future
The national programme was first announced on July 28, 2018, on World Hepatitis Day, where promises were made that patients would be given free treatment. The infected patients also make up a significant share of those who go on to develop liver cancer or failure. While Hepatitis C can be cured with 12-24-week therapy, Hepatitis B patients have to be on lifelong medication.
Hepatitis among the big three communicable diseases
Notably, viral hepatitis is the cause of a major health care burden in India and is equated as a threat comparable to the “big three” communicable diseases – HIV / AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. About 1,76,000 people die each year of Hepatitis B and C-related complications – twice the estimated annual number of HIV and malaria deaths together, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) data.
Blood centre at VN Desai Hospital in Santacruz said, “It is a very important step and effective method to bring Hepatitis under control. Many people are unaware about their status. They should be informed and told to take treatment.”
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)