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Hepatitis Still Prevalent Despite Vaccination

Hepatitis B affects around 40 million people and Hepatitis C is found in almost 6 to 12 million people.

Hepatitis Still Prevalent Despite Vaccination

Hepatitis still prevalent despite vaccination efforts

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Hepatitis B affects around 40 million people
  2. Hepatitis C is found in almost 6 to 12 million people
  3. These diseases together kill about 1.5 lakh people each year
Under India's universal immunisation programme, it was expected that the vaccination of all children against Hepatitis B would lead to a better condition and the people who get infected would reduce, which are around 50 million. Hepatitis B affects around 40 million people and Hepatitis C is found in almost 6 to 12 million people. These diseases together kill about 1.5 lakh people each year. "These are just rough estimates and a majority of people doesn't even know they are infected," says Dr SK Sarin, director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in New Delhi. "The numbers are increasing as more people now are getting tested, but we need to make sure everyone, including adults, get vaccinated against hepatitis B. The prevalence of hepatitis B is far more common than HIV- 0.3% is the HIV prevalence in general population and hepatitis B is 3% to 4% and hepatitis C is about 1%," says Dr Sarin.

The only way to stop the disease in its track is to ensure widespread immunisation against it. "India needs to adopt a universal immunisation strategy for hepatitis control on similar lines that was implemented for polio virus elimination. The move will definitely eliminate hepatitis by 2030 as per the World Health Organisation target, Dr. MS Sandeep, consultant gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospital, Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru told Pharmabiz.

"Our country is also a key hub for clinical trials for hepatitis drugs. Yet vaccination of the entire family is more important going by the cost of medication. More often lack of affordability leads to patient not complying with treatment protocols which becomes a serious challenge for doctors to handle. Therefore, increased awareness on vaccination for the family is key to control the dreaded disease. This along with new drugs including entecavir for hep B can help fight the virus and prevent liver damage cases", he added.

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