On the occasion of “World Hepatitis Day”, 2nd Empathy e-Conclave was organised with Om Birla, Speaker of Lok Sabha as the Chief Guest and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Law and Justice (who participated digitally) along with Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as the guests of honour. The event was organised by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in collaboration with Airport Authority of India (AAI) for creating awareness among the parliamentarians.At the outset, Dr. S. K. Sarin, Director, ILBS made a presentation and highlighted the importance of healthy liver and features of “Empowering People Against Hepatitis: The Empathy Campaign” by ILBS in partnership with AAI, undertaking several innovative initiatives across the country and reaching out to diverse populations.Inaugurating the Conclave, Sh. Om Birla said, “It is my pleasure that I could participate in observing World Hepatitis Day for the second year in a row. In these trying times, when India along with the whole world is fighting the pandemic, it is our dedication and will that have enabled us to come together via this e-conclave. We are committed to the WHO goals of elimination of Hepatitis C and of reducing the burden of Hepatitis B by 2030. We, as the representatives of people of India, have a larger responsibility of spreading awareness in people about this disease so as to make this a Jan Andolan.”Welcoming everyone to the Conclave, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “The theme of this year’s conclave is “Keep your Liver Safe in COVID times”, which is very apt and important especially in these testing times. Under the guidance of Hon. Prime Minister, the pre-emptive and proactive measures taken have helped us control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. While the mortality due to COVID-19 is approximately 2 to 3 % and most cases are largely asymptomatic, it is important to create awareness about the higher risk of both morbidity and mortality faced by people with co-morbidities like diabetes, obesity and fatty liver, chronic liver diseases. The Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres are tirelessly working for screening of such conditions.”
Highlighting the issue to creating mass awareness and community mobilisation, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Hepatitis has become a global health problem. Viral Hepatitis is a very common and serious disease in India, but is virtually unknown to health care providers and the general public. Individuals with viral B & C hepatitis are at increased risk for liver cancer and chronic liver disease, yet an estimated 80 percent of persons with chronic viral hepatitis do not know that they are infected. The mantra to educating people is “Talk Test & Treat” and I appeal to all participants especially from industries, NGOs and other fraternity to support ILBS in this campaign. I request all my colleagues present here to act as a Champion/Ambassador in spreading awareness about the silent epidemics of Hepatitis B & C and help remove the stigma attached to these diseases.”On the contribution of ILBS, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “ILBS is also a WHO collaborative centre. It helped in the development of the National Viral Hepatitis Program which was launched on July 28, 2018. It is the largest program for Hepatitis B and C diagnosis and treatment in the world. We have made seminal progress in reaching out to the people and now every state has several model treatment units.”Dr. Harsh Vardhan also congratulated Dr. S. K. Sarin and Team ILBS for their tireless efforts towards the fight against ongoing COVID – 19 pandemic by testing SARS-Cov-2 samples since the last four months. “It’s indeed been a matter of pride that the country’s first Plasma Bank was made functional at ILBS. Plasma warriors have been selfless contributors helping in improving Recovery Rate in India ”.At the end of the event, all participants took a pledge of “Healthy Liver – Healthy India” by committing to care for the liver even during the COVID-19 pandemic and spread the same message to at least ten people. The event concluded with a vote of thanks.Dr. Poonam Khetrapal, Regional Director, SEARO (WHO), Sh. Vijay Kumar Dev, Chief Secretary of Delhi, Sh. Arvind Singh, Chairman, AAI and other parliamentarians and audience also participated through digital platforms.