Liver specialist calls for more Hep C funding to stop unnecessary deaths

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally 150 million people are infected with hepatitis C and that the disease causes half a million deaths a year. Worldwide, approximately 257 million people have chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

"As a result of this Government's record funding for Pharmac a year the drug buying agency started funding direct-acting antiviral therapies with cure rates of over 90 per cent for hepatitis C. To date, over 2,000 people have been funded for the new treatments".

However, Dr Nagral said there is still reason for caution. "The first WHO-prequalified generic of this product will give large procurers and countries the assurance of quality for an affordable product".

Hepatitis is when the liver becomes inflamed. Countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Egypt are already procuring generic versions of sofosbuvir.

However, the organisation cites an irregular supply of test kits as one of the most commonly reported barriers to screening. Vaccination for Hepatitis C, however, is not now available. However, when treatment is necessary, medication is given to try and cure the infection. There are five main Hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.

World Hepatitis Day is celebrated every year on 28 July.

According to Dr. Ravi Shankar, people who have minor Hepatitis B might suffer from weakness, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice, skin rashes and even joint pain.

There has been an 8% rise in the number of HCV cases among pregnant women in the last one decade in India.

Type B is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.

That picture is starting to change, however.

Synonymous with unusual occurrences in its social and political life, Punjab is now witnessing a freakish and unsavory equation which, according to the health experts, who addressed young Spring Daleans on the occasion of World Hepatitis Week celebration, places the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) at par with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and is a matter of grave concern. It is, however, only the virus that is transmissible.

According to WHO, Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. "When infected, the patient may experience flu-like symptoms". The data is based on more than eight lakh tests done pan India at SRL labs between January 2014 and May 2017.

"These virus-infected persons are the potential source of infection to their neonates, members of the family and other individuals", he added. It also spreads with sexual activity, though rare but the chances increase if you have multiple partners, engage in rough sex or have HIV or nay other sexually transmitted disease. Hence, it is always prudent for patients with chronic hepatitis B to attend regular check-ups to ensure that their condition remains stable. Infection with hepatitis C may damage the liver leading to chronic infection. These infections drive costly transplants and cancer drugs.

'If we can make the most of these Pharmac-funded treatments, we can achieve real and long-term benefits for our community'. Initial testing for hepatitis C virus uses serological assays to detect antibodies against HCV in blood samples.

Transmission: Like hepatitis A, Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.