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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

State health dept launches centre for treatment of hepatitis at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital

This is the second clinic in Calcutta where all services related to the disease will be provided free

Subhajoy Roy Calcutta Published 29.07.21, 02:01 AM
World Health Organisation (WHO) mentioned that it estimated "296 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection in 2019, with 1.5 million new infections each year" across the globe.

World Health Organisation (WHO) mentioned that it estimated "296 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection in 2019, with 1.5 million new infections each year" across the globe. Shutterstock

The state health department on Wednesday launched a centre at the RG Kar Medical College and Hospital to screen, test and provide treatment for viral hepatitis.

This is the second centre in Calcutta where all viral hepatitis-related services will be provided free. The other centre functions from SSKM Hospital.

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The College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital in Kamarhati runs a free hepatitis centre, said a senior health department official.

A helpline number was also launched on Wednesday where people suffering from the disease or those who want to get tested for the disease can call. The number —7044041011 — will be operational from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. It will be operated by Liver Foundation.

A screening, testing and treatment programme for the inmates of the correctional homes in the state was also launched on Wednesday.

Several doctors and health services administrators called viral hepatitis "a silent killer" where the symptoms manifest very late.

The common symptoms include yellowing of the skin and eye whites, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, among others. But doctors advised that people who are in vulnerable group - those undergoing regular dialysis, those who suffer from thalassemia and have to undergo regular blood transfusion and those who suffer from haemophilia - must get screened for viral hepatitis. Health care workers and those who donate blood frequently too must get screened for the disease, they said.

Ajay Chakraborty, the state's director of health services, said that there were 28lakh people suffering from hepatitis B in Bengal and 7 lakh suffering from hepatitis C. "Since this disease does not kill within a short time people are not that aware of its ability to impact humans. People infected with the disease have to deal with a lot of pain and suffering. Viral hepatitis is a silent killer. The disease can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis of liver," Chakraborty said. Another doctor of the health department said that the numbers cited by Chakraborty reflected only those who have been identified as suffering from the disease. There could be lakhs of others who are yet to be identified.

The website of the World Health Organisation (WHO) mentioned that it estimated "296 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection in 2019, with 1.5 million new infections each year" across the globe.

WHO's website added that "In highly endemic areas, hepatitis B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth (perinatal transmission) or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood)". Hepatitis B also spreads by "needlestick injury, tattooing, piercing and exposure to infected blood and body fluids, such as saliva and menstrual, vaginal and seminal fluids. Transmission of the virus may also occur through the reuse of contaminated needles and syringes or sharp objects…Sexual transmission is more prevalent in unvaccinated persons with multiple sexual partners".

According to the WHO, Hepatitis C, another viral hepatitis infection that can also lead to cirrhosis and cancer is transmitted primarily by "the reuse or inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, especially syringes and needles in healthcare settings; the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products; and injecting drug use through the sharing of injection equipment".

Doctors of the state health department said there was hope against both the infections. "Hepatitis C is curable while there is vaccine against Hepatitis B. We are urging people to come to the centres opened by the state government to come and undergo screening. We are conducting the tests and also providing free treatment and medicines to those diagnosed with viral hepatitis from these centres," said Pallab Bhattacharya, the state programme officer for National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme.

The RG Kar clinic will remain open every Monday and Thursday, between 9am and 2pn, said Kingshuk Dhar, the head of gastroenterology at the hospital.

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