Bengaluru: To commemorate World Hepatitis Day (july 29), BR Life SSNMC Hospital organized ‘Livathon’ – a 5 km walkathon to raise awareness among people about the increasing incidence of Hepatitis and ways to prevent it.Doctors, nurses and people from the neighbourhood participated in this event. The walkathon started from the hospital premises and participants walked around the area distributing posters and pamphlets to the people with details on Hepatitis.
Hepatitis is known to be one of the major causes of increasing healthcare burden in India. It is now equated as a threat comparable to the “big three” communicable diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E virus are mostly transmitted through contaminated food and water and can spread infections easily. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are blood-borne and are transmissible in nature. HBV and HCV can cause chronic complications including cirrhosis of the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma. According to a report by WHO (2017), hepatitis claims close to one and a half million lives each year.
Alongside the walkathon, a free Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C screening camp was also organized in the hospital. Several patients walked in for the screening test.
Speaking on the increasing incidence of Hepatitis in India, Dr. Naveen Ganjoo, Senior Consultant – Hepatology and Transplantation, BR Life SSNMC Hospital said, “Unhygienic living conditions, illiteracy and poor healthcare resources in our country contributes to the increase in Hepatitis A & E incidence. Hepatitis B and C are the deadliest types of Hepatitis and show no symptoms in their initial stages and if left untreated, might lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Although Hepatitis can be cured if detected early, the ignorance and delay in consulting the doctor complicates the disease. It is crucial for people to understand the need to prevent Hepatitis and take necessary steps before it aggravates.”
Elaborating on lack of awareness among people about Hepatitis Dr. Rehan Saif, Senior Consultant – Hepato Pancreato Biliary and Multi-Organ transplant Surgeon said “India is at the second position after China in terms of the number of chronic hepatitis infections. The lack of knowledge about Hepatitis is increasing the liver cancer burden in India and the cases are increasing every year. According to a report over 50,000 people in India are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. Undoubtedly early detection is the key when it comes to cancer, unfortunately, most liver cancer patients are diagnosed when it’s too late to provide them with any curative treatment”.
Commenting on the need to control Hepatitis, Col. Hemraj Singh Parmar, Group CEO, BR Life said, “Today, even with affordable vaccination available for HBV and HCV, India continues to struggle to reduce the number of Hepatitis infected people, mainly due to lack of awareness among them. Hospitals and healthcare service providers should come forward to educate patients and counsel them about viral hepatitis to help bring down the incidence of hepatitis. Also, screening programs will encourage people to visit the hospital and to get a health check-up done.”