BHUBANESWAR: Experts are unanimous over making Hepatitis B a notifiable disease in India where awareness about it is still very low.According to a study by the Kalinga Gastroenterology Foundation (KGF), awareness about the disease and the vaccine is barely 38 per cent and 32 per cent respectively in Odisha. Moreover, half of those aware have no knowledge about the route of transmission, infectivity or importance of vaccination.
Addressing the 17th Hepatitis B Eradication Day 2017 and World Hepatitis Day here, noted gastroenterologist Prof SK Acharya said, having a registry for Hepatitis B is essential to measure the burden and plan strategies for its management while it is necessary to have a Hepatitis B control programmme to check or eliminate Hepatitis from India. The function was organised by KGF.
In countries like Italy and Taiwan, which had a huge burden of Hepatitis B and liver cancer, have drastically reduced the burden of these diseases by mass vaccination, informed Acharya, who is Professor (Emeritus) of Department of Gastroenterology, AIIMS, New Delhi. He also rued the role played by certain big pharmaceutical houses in delaying inclusion of Hepatitis B vaccination in the immunisation programme of the country since it would inflict huge losses on them.
Prof SP Singh, Head of Department of Gastroenterology, SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack informed that despite availability of the vaccine, Hepatitis B remained the causative agent for almost 20 per cent cases of Acute Hepatitis B and 75 per cent of primary liver cancer in the State.
He felt that ART Centres for HIV should be utilised better and Hepatitis patients should also be provided free investigations and free medicines for Hepatitis in these State-run clinics. Such facilities should be made free for all, not just for the BPL patients, since Hepatitis B treatment burden ultimately relegated the middle class patient to below poverty limits.
“All schools should make Hepatitis B vaccination compulsory for the children since it was no more a costly affair, and such a provision would go a long way in improving “Catch-Up Vaccination,” said Prof Singh, who is also Chairman of KGF.
Speaking on the occasion, Principal Investigator, Toshiba General Hospital, Tokyo Dr SMF Akbar said, there is a greater need for greater participation of governmental agencies and NGOs to remove the menace of Hepatitis. Only 85 per cent patients of Hepatitis B and C are aware that they have the infection and of these, only one per cent have access to treatment.
Director of Regional Medical Research Centre Dr Sanghamitra Pati was also present. SUM Hospital and Dr Sangita Bangar received the KGF Samman on the occasion.