Bhubaneswar: Viral hepatitis kills around 14 lakh people worldwide every year. Over 40 crore people are affected by hepatitis annually and most are not aware of their status.
Unless there is a massive scale-up in screening, diagnosis andlinkage to care, more people will become infected and lives will continue to be lost, experts stressed at a function organised by Kalinga Gastroenterology Foundation (KGF) to observe World Hepatitis Day here on July 28,2023.
Delivering the Blumberg Oration, instituted in honour of Nobel Prize winner for discovery of Hepatitis B Vaccine Prof BS Blumberg, renowned hepatologist Prof Sanjaya Satapathy from North Shore University Hospital, New York, said, “Chronicallyinfected patients who don’t access appropriate diagnosis or treatment services could eventuallydevelop cirrhosis, liver cancer or other liver diseases. In many cases, doctors can easily preventthe disease using vaccines, or treat it using antiviral drugs.”
Chairman KGF Prof SP Singh said about 325 million people are infected by viral hepatitis, of which 240 million sufferfrom chronic hepatitis B, while 80 million people have chronic hepatitis C. Staggeringly, 95%of those infected are unaware of their illness, and less than 1% access treatment.
The World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Viral Hepatitis aims to eradicate thedisease by 2030, and has launched‘Nohep’ campaign to raise awareness. “The strategy provides aset of testing, prevention and treatment milestones for governments. If governments can meetthese targets, then more people will be vaccinated and treated, resulting in a 65% drop inhepatitis deaths, and saving 70 lakh lives by 2030,” he said.
Chief guest of the function, Resident Editor of The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar, Mr Siba Mohanty said the impact of this disease is far-reaching, affecting not only individuals but entire communities and nations.
Commending the KGF for its work on generating awareness and providing access to vaccines and treatment for more than the last two decades, Mr Mohanty called for multi-pronged effort encompassing awareness, education, access and healthcare to effectively combat the burden of hepatitis.
The annual KGF Sammana award was presented to Mr SN Agragami, Associate Editor of The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar, for journalistic work on public health issues. The Siba Panigrahi Sammana was presented to artist Mr Jitendra Kumar Sahu.
Prominent artists who had taken part in a painting programme on hepatitis were felicitated. Winners of different competitions were also awarded prizes.
Among others secretary KGF Tuhin Kanti Ghosh and convenor Prof Niranjan Rout also spoke.