5.2 Crore Living With Hepatitis B And C In India, Says WHO As Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal And Thailand Achieve ControlA rural hospital in India. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) (representative picture)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand have successfully gained control over Hepatitis B becoming the first countries in the South-East Asia Region to do so, Tribune has reported.

Prevalence of the disease has reduced to less than 1 per cent of the among 5-year-old children in the countries said the declaration on World Hepatitis Day. WHO estimates put the national prevalence of Hepatitis B and C in India at 4 per cent and 1.2 per cent of the population respectively.

“As many as 40 million people in India live with chronic HBV and 12 million with the chronic HCV virus. And yet we have been looking for a concerted national response to these killer viruses. The solution lies in administering HBV vaccine at birth to each of our 2.7 crore newborns annually. Hepatitis C, on the other hand, can be addressed by screening the population and later providing them free treatment. There is no vaccine for HCV,” says Samir Shah, founder, National Liver Foundation.

WHO and government numbers suggest that as many as 1 million people die of liver diseases due to the Hepatitis viruses every year. The viruses lead to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer and can stay dormant in a person’s body for 20 to 30 years without symptoms. The diseases spread from person to person mainly due to unsafe transfusion and injection practices through contaminated blood.

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