India still needs to go a long way to combat Hepatitis, says WHO report

India is one among few countries with a “written national strategy or plan” that concentrates solely on the prevention and regulation of viral hepatitis but the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the country is still lacking proper and appropriate measures to fight the disease.


Photo Credit: CDC

Hepatitis mortalities tagged under “undifferentiated” or “unclassified” are not enrolled to the central registry and even viral hepatitis is not regularly scrutinized and the government never published reports of hepatitis.

The WHO report further added that India lacks proper laboratory services as well to back the inspection of viral hepatitis epidemic, besides missing a “national public health research” scheme for viral hepatitis.

India doesn’t have a national policy on Hepatitis A vaccination and the union government hasn’t even made eradicating Hepatitis B as their goal.

The government doesn’t have records of the number of newborn babies vaccinated with the first dose for Hepatitis B within 24 hours of their birth or the number of one-year-olds who were vaccinated of three doses for the same.

Health workers receive skills and expertise needed for effectually taking care of viral Hepatitis patients via their on-the-job training. The government doesn’t have “national policies” for screening and recommendation to care and cure Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.

Public funding for treating Hepatitis B or C is not available. However, lamivudine and ribavirin, the drugs for curing Hepatitis B and C, respectively are in the “national essential medicine list”.

According to WHO, an estimated number of four to six crore individuals in India, carry Hepatitis B, which is two to five percent of India’s population may be affected by the virus. Apart from these, annually one lakh patients die of viral Hepatitis in India.

World over, infections with hepatitis B and C viruses cause an estimated 57% of cases of liver cirrhosis and 78% of cases of primary liver cancer. The hepatitis B virus can be avoided with a preventive vaccination.

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