In a bid to eliminate Hepatitis disease, Delhi government has suggested that schools should devote at least an hour every month to spread awareness about the disease among students so that they can carry it forward in the society. As part of the awareness programme, a free liver screening was held on the 17th Hepatitis Day event at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) today, which was inaugurated by Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. Jung reassured government’s support and commitment to the drive against hepatitis. ‘Viral Hepatitis Eradication by 2080’ has been declared as the theme for the day.

Jung said that main focus should be on creating awareness in the general public, especially school children and high-risk groups, about the importance of proper hygiene, safe and screened blood transfusions and vaccination to prevent hepatitis. “Since hepatitis vaccination is such a potent method to prevent the infection, therefore if all babies born today are vaccinated, then by the time the unvaccinated population passes away (that is 65 years from now assuming normal lifespan at 65 years), there would be no more people with the virus.

Hence, we can theoretically achieve the impossible if only we have the determination,” said Dr Shiv Sarin, Director at ILBS adding about 60 million people in India are infected with hepatitis B and C, second only to China. Health Secretary SCL Das said that the concept of hepatitis prevention should be taken up on mission mode. “Schools should devote one hour to the concept every month called ‘Hepatitis Hour’,” Das suggested.

Dr Sarin also stressed that despite newer and better treatments available for patients of hepatitis B and C, the cost of the treatment is so high and for most patients these are not affordable. He thus urged that these medicines and treatment facilities should be subsidized for the common man and even called upon making treatment for hepatitis B and C free like it is for tuberculosis and HIV. The event was part of the ‘Hepatitis Convergence Week’ that is being marked by Delhi government’s Health department in collaboration with ILBS. Delhi government had declared Dec 4 as the official Hepatitis Day for the city.

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