To keep track on the rising number of hepatitis patients in India an online registry will shortly be launched, said a leading gastroenterologist.
The registry will be part of the newly formed Indian National Association for Study of the Liver and Current Perspective in Liver Disease. Under the initiative, member physicians and health workers will keep a record of the number of people suffering from hepatitis and other liver diseases caused by it.
Following that the association will disseminate information to regional hospitals and healthcare facilities to tackle the disease in a proper way. The association will also help in making medicines available to the health centers located in the remote areas of the country.
Noting that hepatitis was 28 times more dangerous than AIDS due to the absence of symptoms while it progresses in a patient, the experts said the need of registry was felt as over 75% of the people in India did not even know that a disease like hepatitis exists.
According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) four lakh people die due to liver diseases, a result of hepatitis, in India every year. The states most affected by the disease are Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
"75% of the hepatitis may it be B or C is curable at the initial stage. However, as the symptoms are not felt so the person gets to know about it only when virus causes liver cancer," said S.K. Acharya, head of gastroenterology at AIIMS. He said through the registry the hot spots of hepatitis across the country can be highlighted and healthcare in those areas improved.
Anil Arora, a gastroenterologist at city-based Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: "Currently, the medicines available for hepatitis are very expensive and are not affordable for every citizen, so through this registry we will first of all look for the hotspots of hepatitis in the country and then raise awareness among them including providing the facilities so that the disease is diagnosed early."
A new drug Sofosbuvir is believed to be the perfect cure for Hepatitis C patients with in 24 weeks. However, the medicine currently costs over Rs.1 lakh for the entire therapy which is unaffordable for the economically weaker sections.