World Hepatitis Day 2020 observed in Kohima by ARK Foundation

Correspondent KOHIMA, JUL 28 (NPN) | Publish Date: 7/28/2020 1:13:08 PM IST

In commemoration of World Hepatitis Day 2020, a virtual press conference on access to treatment for viral Hepatitis C in Nagaland was held on Tuesday, an initiative taken by ARK Foundation in collaboration with NUN and Kripa Foundation, Nagaland supported by ITPC/DNP+.

Access to Rights and Knowledge (ARK) Foundation president Ketho Angami, speaking on the occasion said viral hepatitis always remained neglected over the past decades without any government initiated programmes. He said that it was only in the year 2018 that the national Viral Hepatitis control programme was launched by the central government, yet it failed to take off in an aggressive manner. He added that, the situation was further worsened with the COVID-19 crisis that has threatened to derail the programme across the country.

Pointing out that one particular health crises should not overshadow another health crises as both pandemic should be addressed with equal priority, Ketho said that, the district hospitals which are expected to have a treatment for viral Hepatitis B and C functioning has been converted into a Covid Care Hospital and has been labeled as “sealed area”. 

Claiming that such restrictions to the entry of the hospitals have deterred people from availing the services, Ketho also pointed out that this has resulted in total absence of any medical work force in the hospitals to address the needs of people who desire to get tested and treated for Viral Hepatitis B and C. In this regard, Ketho Angami appealed the state government to restore the State Viral Hepatitis Control Program in the state stating that the right to health is as fundamental as civil rights and should not be a privilege.

Ketho also asserted that any loss of precious human lives due to any sort of diseases counts and that “such loss of lives from a curable disease is avoidable and the government should see through, from this lens.”

Meanwhile, director of Kripa Foundation Abou Mere highlighting about World Hepatitis Day said it was observed annually on July 28 to raise awareness on viral hepatitis disease, to spread the message of different forms of hepatitis, how they are spread/transmitted, diagnosed and can be treated with Direct Acting Antivirus (DAA) medicines.

Abou observed that Nagaland does not have the required sustained commitment and action form all stakeholders, state government, Health department, CSOs, NGOs or even the affected communities and high-risk groups in response to Viral Hepatitis, despite that India was committed to combating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2023 in the line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target.

He pointed out that “with no surveillance system in place or independent studies available in our state, the burden of Hepatitis C (HCV) disease is unknown.” He informed that many infected with Hepatitis C will be unaware and may go undiagnosed and untreated, posing a risk of farther transmission and he said it posed a major threat to public health, economic and social crises.

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