Viral hepatitis (Hepatitis B and C) remains a major challenge affecting approximately 325 million people globally. It is the root cause of liver cancer, leading to 1.34 million deaths every year. On the occasion of “World Hepatitis Day” Brahm Mohindra, Health & Family Welfare and Medical Education & Research Minister, Punjab called upon healthcare workers not only to generate awareness amongst masses but also to work towards the goal of ‘Eliminating hepatitis”. He stated that aprox 50 thousands patients suffering from this disease in Punjab. He said that free treatment of HVC available in 25 govt hospitals and Pb. Govt has released Rs. 28 crores for this purpose.“World hepatitis Day” is observed annually by World Health Organisation (WHO) with focus on the theme: "Test. Treat. Hepatitis" for World Hepatitis Day 2018 events. The Minister was speaking at a function which was jointly organised by Punjab Government, GI RENDEZVOUS and PunBoard.The state of Punjab reels under a heavy disease burden of Hepatitis and is one of the most affected regions of the country.
While addressing the gathering various experts agreed that this is linked the rising menace of IV drug abuse amongst other causes. It was in the year 2015 that a group of healthcare professionals took the baton to stem this tide by raising public awareness about common but deadly and silent diseases to contribute to the well being of society at large and GI RENDEZVOUS came into existence.Ever since, the team has been busy trying every bit to sensitise all sections of the society. Whilst sharing the Information of Hepatitis virus the experts informed that according to WHO, India is one of the 11 countries which carries almost 50% of the global burden of chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis is a condition relating to inflammation of the liver and is commonly caused due to a viral infection. However, experts also spoke about the A (alcohol), B (Hepatitis B), C (Hepatitis C) and D (diabetes) of causes of Hepatitis and mentioned how sometimes 2 or 3 of these factors together can damage the liver in less than 10 years!Prominent amongst the attendees were Sh. Sunil Datti MLA, S. Kamaldeep Singh Sangha Deputy Commissioner, Commissioner of Police, Civil Surgeon and Principal Medical College. About 200 principals and teachers and about 500 students from various institutions of Amritsar district were present to learn about this silent killer. WHO says that Hepatitis B and C are chronic viruses that may not show symptoms for a long time following initial infection, sometimes years or decades. At least 60% of liver cancer cases are due to late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C. Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap to be addressed in order to achieve the global elimination goals by 2030.
Dr Sonal Asthana, an eminent Liver Surgeon from Bangalore informed that Nearly 10,000 children die of liver failure in India every year. Liver transplant is a safe and effective treatment for liver failure and is now well established in India. The major problem in India is cost of treatment. Although the technology and skills are available, most Indians are unable to afford the cost of a liver transplant. In case of children, the parents are usually willing donors but most children do not reach a transplant because of lack of funding.Dr. Sonal said that The Aster Integrated Liver Care Team at Aster CMI hospital has devised an innovative funding mechanism to support children in need of a liver transplant. he informed that The motto of the affordable liver transplant initiative is that no child who needs lifesaving transplant shall be refused because of economic status. The AILC has partnered with the Pravin Agarwal fund (TPAF) as well as Milaap ,a crowdfunding organisation to offer liver transplant to children for a cost of 2.5 lakhs to the family.GI RENDEZVOUS TEAM was represented by Dr Gurbilas Singh, Dr Ravinder Singh and Dr Amitabh Mohan Jerath who also threw light on Hepatitis prevention. Senior Members of Medical fraternity including Dr Arun Chopra, Dr HP Singh,Dr Jagtesh Sidhu and Dr Vikas Gupta contributed with their ideas.A documentary “ A Silent Killer “ on Hepatitis C awareness directed by Ravinder Singh Robin (a senior journalist of the region) and produced by Punjab backward classes development Board was screened on the occasion and was put in public domain for the benefit of all.