New Delhi: Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu along with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday chaired an event to sensitise the parliamentarians on hepatitis on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day 2022.
Expressing his deep concern over the issue of hepatitis, the Vice-President called upon all parliamentarians to take the cause of a hepatitis-free India to their constituencies and spread the message in vernacular languages for more impact and to change the social fabric.
Calling for a collective action against hepatitis, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla emphasised the crucial role played by the Parliament in disseminating the message in a country full of diversity.
“It is responsibility of the people’s representatives to ensure that their constituencies have constant identification and monitoring of hepatitis patients,” Birla said.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also apprised the audience on the situation of hepatitis in the country and explained the need to rapidly eliminate the disease. Underlining the challenges in the diagnosis of hepatitis in early stages, the health minister highlighted the importance of early detection for timely treatment.
“Our COVID management learning has demonstrated that test, trace and treat strategy worked well. Most people remain unaware of hepatitis at the early stages, as either they have no symptoms or there are such symptoms on the basis of which it is difficult to diagnose the disease. To allay this, and to reduce the burden of disease among the community, we need to screen high-risk groups including family members of hepatitis B patients and those who have received or are receiving repeated blood transfusions, are on dialysis, are infected with HIV or who are immune are compromised,” he noted.
Accentuating the New Global Health Sector Strategies for the period 2022-2030 that aim to eliminate HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections by 2030, Mandaviya highlighted that the number of deaths from hepatitis B in a day is more than the number of deaths from HIV in a year.
“Therefore, over the years, viral hepatitis B and C have become a global health problem and significant cause of death. Around 4,000 people die of viral hepatitis in a day in the world. About 40 million people in India are suffering from hepatitis B and C infections, he added.
Mandaviya exhorted states to launch Jan Abhiyaan with people’s participation to enthuse and engage citizens and communities to ensure a hepatitis-free India. He also suggested everyone to work in a mission mode to eradicate hepatitis and make it a ‘Jan Andolan’ by adopting three-pronged approach of prevention, testing and treatment.
All parliamentarians also took pledge to not discriminate people living with hepatitis and contribute in empowering people against the disease during the awareness session.