Government to roll out initiative for prevention & control of viral hepatitis

• The Union Health Ministry is ready to roll out a Rs 500 crore-three-year comprehensive integrated national action plan to check morbidity and mortality due to the disease that inflicts the liver.

• The action plan has been developed with the key objective to provide an actionable framework of evidence-based, priority interventions to support the national response for prevention, control and management of viral hepatitis in the country.

• Viral hepatitis is becoming a serious health problem as the “big three” communicable diseases — HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis — in the country.

=> Concerns

• The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already recognised viral hepatitis as a serious public health problem in India which is home to over 52 million people infected with chronic hepatitis.

• This is placing a huge disease, social and economic burden on the affected families as well as the health system, as per the UN agency.

• The latest assessment by WHO shows that in 2016, of the 400 million people infected by viral hepatitis globally, about 13% were Indians.

• A bigger concern is that most people infected with the virus are unaware and experts point out that with challenges such as awareness, accessibility, compliance and affordability, India can only eradicate hepatitis by 2080 (as against global goal of 2030) if they start acting now.

=> What is viral hepatitis?

• Inflammation of liver is usually referred as hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is a widespread infectious disease normally caused by the hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E.

• The condition can progress to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

• It can be caused by any of the known five hepatotropic viruses, namely — hepatitis A, B, C, D and E which are highly divergent in their structure, epidemiology, mode of transmission, incubation period, signs/symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment options.

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