World Hepatitis Day provides a platform each year to coordinate a worldwide response to the Hepatitis challenge. In an interview to Medindia, Dr. Mohamed Rela MBBS, MS, FRCS (Edin), internationally renowned specialist in hepatobiliary, pancreatic and liver transplant surgeries discussed the level of hepatitis awareness and the liver transplantation scene in India. Dr. Mohamed Rela currently heads the Institute of Liver, Pancreas diseases and Transplantation, Global Hospitals and Health City Group, Chennai and is Professor of Liver Surgery and Transplantation, King's College Hospital, UK. Dr. Rela has performed over 1300 transplant surgeries, pioneered the split liver transplantation and auxiliary liver transplantation techniques, and has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for a liver transplant performed on a 5-day-old baby.
Q. How serious is the incidence of viral hepatitis infections in India? Is there sufficient awareness about hepatitis among the people of India?
AdvertisementA. Viral Hepatitis includes infection by several types of virus - Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E. etc. There is no definite data in India, which includes the incidence of all the types of Viral hepatitis, the reason being the poor awareness regarding Viral Hepatitis. Hepatitis A and E spread through contaminated food and are usually self- limiting and these are very rarely reported, whereas Hepatitis B and C spread through blood and body fluids and very often present as chronic illness. To put it in a nutshell, the misconception about Viral Hepatitis is more prevalent than the awareness regarding it.
Q. With more people diagnosed with liver diseases, liver transplants are becoming very necessary. How has the liver transplant scene changed in India since the first liver transplant surgery you performed some 13 years ago in India?
A. There has been a sea change in the Liver transplantation scenario in India, predominantly in the last 4 years and the rate of growth is phenomenal. India is emerging as one of the key players in Liver transplant in the Asian region and importantly among the Living donor liver transplant programs of the world. As the need for Liver transplant in our country is enormous, rapid increase in the future in the number of transplants performed is bound to happen.
Q. Some tips to our readers on World Hepatitis Day to keep their liver healthy?
• Eat healthy, balanced, hygienic food
• Exercise regularly to prevent Fatty Liver disease (Fat deposition on the Liver)
• Vaccinate against Hepatitis B infection
• Ensure that precautions are followed at the healthcare facility you happen to visit in order to avoid contamination from infected patients
• Timely consultation with a qualified practitioner to obtain the appropriate treatment if you happen to be affected by Viral hepatitis
On World Hepatitis day several medical professionals, NGOs and patient groups in the world make the effort to increase public awareness about Hepatitis, to prevent, screen and control viral hepatitis and its related diseases such as liver cirrhosis, acute liver disease and liver cancer. Supported and driven by patient groups from all over the world, World Hepatitis Alliance works to clear viral hepatitis from the face of the earth. The first step is the awareness needed to recognize that, "This is Hepatitis."