State observes World Hepatitis Day

KOHIMA, Jul 28: Along with the rest of the world, the state observed World Hepatitis Day on Friday here at Directorate of Health and Family Welfare under the theme ‘Eliminate Hepatitis’.

World Hepatitis Day, observed every year in honour of the Nobel Laureate, Baruch Samuel Blumberg, on his birth anniversary, who discovered the Hepatitis B virus.

Project Director, NSACS, Dr. Ngangshimeren in his keynote address pointed out that the World Hepatitis Day is one of the eight official global public health campaign marked by the World Health Organization along with World TB Day, World Malaria Day, World AIDS Day, World Immunization Week, World No Tobacco Day and World Biodiversity Day. He said that it is observed every year with the aim to raise awareness among the people across the world and make a hepatitis free world.

Dr. Ngangshimeren also mentioned that World Health Assembly adopted the declaration with some objectives to provide an opportunity to all stakeholders to focus together on issue, to raise awareness about various forms of hepatitis including means of transmission, to encourage people to be proactively for prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment, to get global response especially from the stakeholders in order to develop ownership initiate and implement some tangible steps to address this menace.

The significant achievement of the World Health Organization is that all countries has adopted and has let a goal of eliminating viral Hepatitis by 2030. In support of the theme ‘Eliminate Hepatitis’, WHO will release new information on national responses in 28 countries which include India, Dr. Ngangshimeren added.

Director, Kripa Foundation, Abou Mere gave a brief note on NGO perspective. He mentioned that in the context of Nagaland, injecting drug user from two districts Phek and Wokha showed prevalence rates of 8.7% and 20.8% respectively. The ICMR collected 98 blood samples of current and ex-drug users for HBV, HCV and HIV test from Kripa Foundation Drug Treatment cum Rehabilitation Centre and Kripa Drop-in Centre, reported 30.61% HCV reactive. A study conducted on Hepatitis C by centre for AIDS research, Johns Hopkins University and YRG care Chennai showed that Dimapur town has 9.1% prevalence of HCV. Two data sources on HCV by Naga Hospital Authority of Kohima (NHAK) – MSD Pharma Company and NHAK project tested 728 individuals and 50 individuals were found to be HCV reactive. It also showed the presence of the virus among the general population was 1.8%.

He pointed out that HCV is a major threat to public health and causes extreme economic and social burden. Therefore to acknowledge the importance of dealing HCV with urgency and establish strategies and action plans to prevent further transmission of HCV and treatment of those who are living with HCV with the new Direct Acting Antiretroviral (DAA).

Mere urged the Government of Nagaland to ensure increase prevention, diagnostic and treatment program for Hepatitis B and C. He further appreciated the Government of Nagaland in taking the lead role in organizing this year’s World Hepatitis Day.

Jr. Specialist, NHAK, Dr. K. Vanlalruati Nyuthe in his presentation on Basics of Hepatitis said that Hepatitis C virus discovered in 1989 as a small RNA virus were major cause of post transfusion hepatitis prior to 1992 caused chronic liver disease, Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Approximately 160-185 million people around the world have been infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), of which 350000-500000 die each year. India has very high burden of Hepatitis C, and the prevalence of Hepatitis C is between 1-2 %. It has been estimated that 288000 news HCV infection occurred in India and HCV related deaths are estimated to be high as 96,000 every year. She also said that prevalence in high risk population where pregnant women has 0.6-1.4% of HCV antibodies. Perinated transmission of HCV has also been seen to occur in approximately 5.8% among HCVRNA-positive antenatal women. Few Indian studies have demonstrated perinatal transmission as high as 25%. India has an estimated 1.1 million injection drug users (IDUS) and Nagaland was placed at 5.4-29.9 percent. HCV transmission is shared through drug needles with an infected person, born to a mother who has hepatitis C (6% chances of getting transmitted from mother to child), use an infected person’s razor or toothbrush, tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools and rarely, sexual transmission of Hepatitis C is possible. Along with the hepatitis C, she also said that hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. Adult who get it for a short time and then get better is called acute hepatitis B and the virus causes a long term infection is called chronic hepatitis B. In HBV related disease burden in India, it has been estimated that 9 million will acquire HBV infection in their lifetime and 1507000 will develop chronic HBV infection.

Physician, Bethel Medical Centre, Dr. Kejavisa Savino highlighting on the ‘Hepatitis C treatment protocol’ said that all patients cannot receive treatment immediately. Priority should be given to those with the most urgent need. He said that treatment decisions should balance the anticipated reduction in transmission versus the likelihood of reinfection in patients whose risk of HCV transmission is high and in whom HCV treatment may result in a reduction in transmission. He added that treatment goals are to achieve sustained eradication of HCV (i.e SVR), which is defined as the persistent absence of HCV RNA in seren 3-6 months or more after completing antiviral treatment. The second goal, he said was to prevent progression to cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and decompensated liner disease requiring liver transplantation.

Savino said, with the help of the department and the media this disease can be prevented and will help the people to know more of this disease and knowledge of Hepatitis disease.

The programme was chaired by Mission Director, NHM, Dr. Limaakum Jamir while Deputy Director, NSACS, Dr. Ruokuobeinuo Chielie delivered the vote of thanks.

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