CHENNAI: Millions across the world and hundreds of thousands of people in Tamil Nadu are affected by Hepatitis B and C, but most of them do not even know about it.
“Hepatitis B and C are the most prevalent disorders affecting the liver. It is those in the age group of 40 to 50 years of age who are more vulnerable. Sadly, they have no clue about it,” said Dr R P Shanmugam, founder trustee of Chennai Liver Foundation.
There are about 40 million people across the world, he said, adding that an estimated five per cent of the population was affected by this in the State.
Ahead of the World Hepatitis Day on July 28, Chennai Liver Foundation organised a walkathon to spread awareness about this often overlooked disease. Around 750 people, including school students who are part of NCC and NSS, participated in the walk held early on Sunday at Marina.
Shanmugam added that the walkathon focused on four major points. “Viral liver disease, alcohol liver disease, fatty liver disease and need for more organ donors are the four main points we are highlighting in this walk,” he said, while speaking to the media.
Doctors say that early screening, routine immunisation and healthy lifestyle are the means to avoid this disease, which is considered to be deadlier than AIDS.
Using same needles, syringes, blood transfusion, excess alcohol intake and unhealthy dietary habits cause liver cirrhosis which could lead to cancer and death, warned doctors.
“About 30 per cent of people have fatty liver and the main reason behind it is a bad lifestyle. In South East Asian countries like Japan, and in India, 80 per cent develop cancer due to liver diseases,” he added.
Fatty liver, the most commonly found liver disorder, is caused by excess intake of fatty and unhealthy food, while alcohol abuse leads to cirrhosis and scarring of liver.
Liver transplant is one of the treatment for these conditions and diseases, though it is prohibitively expensive and there is a dire need for more organ donors in the country.
There is also a need for more liver transplant centres, as reports suggest that India has only 10 transplant centres in total.
“We need more organ donors. We at the foundation do free screenings and aim at providing free treatment to people. We want people to be aware of this disease and take precautions,” added Dr Shanmugam
“This walkathon taught me that alcohol and excess junk food are the main reasons for liver disorders. I will incorporate it in my daily life from now on,” said S Dinesh, a 14-year-old student from WPA Soundarapandian School.