IMPHAL, July 10: Oinam MLA Dr Irengbam Ibohalbi, also the secretary of Manipur Legislative Forum on HIV & AIDS (MLFA), stressed the need to provide awareness about Hepatitis C virus as the co-infection of HIV and HCV is a serious threat to the society.
He was speaking as the chief guest at a function to launch a yearlong HCV advocacy campaign as part of the World Hepatitis Day at the Manipur Press Club today.
The rate of f HIV and AIDS infections have decreased during the last few years among the IDUs but the rate of HIV and HCV co-infections have increased considerably, he said, adding Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne virus in Manipur and the primary reason for liver cirrhosis and liver cancer in Manipur. He further said that people living with HCV have extreme difficulties in accessing HCV testing, diagnosis and treatment in spite of widespread prevalence.
The advocacy campaign is jointly organised by Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) and State Directorate of Health Service under the theme ‘Hepatitis: Think Again.’
Speaking as a guest of honour in the event, MACS project director Shailesh Kumar Chourasia stated that Hepatits C was one of the biggest health issues in the world and as far as Manipur was concerned, the situation was worst as it normally occurred along with HIV and AIDS.
There is a need for concerted effort and cooperation from all stakeholders with regard to health issues, he said, adding there is no specific rules and programmes for HCV in India.
Moreover, the support from the public in this regard is also lacking as such there is the need of every possible support from all sides, he added.
CoNE president Nilikanta said that World Hepatitis day is a stepping stone that focussed first on raising awareness and then on securing national and state support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support for people living with Hepatitis B and C and those at the risk of being infected.
Manipur will join groups around the world to raise awareness about Hepatitis B and C, he said, adding that one out of 12 people worldwide is infected with either of the two and 20,000 people in Manipur are infected with either of the two diseases in Manipur.
The disease has no specific symptoms until serious liver damage has occurred and chronic, lifelong viral infection can affect anyone from any walks of life, he added.
Later after launching the advocacy campaign in the function, also attended by Directorate of Health Services joint director Dr Kh Sasheekumar Mangang as the president, he said a variety of events and initiatives will be conducted across the state in partnership with different key stakeholders during the campaign in line with the global campaign theme and the key activities include sensitising the public about Hepatitis through the media, distribution of posters and leaflets, radio talk shows in All India Radio, awareness programmes in colleges and higher secondary schools, road shows by film stars, live panel discussions on Impact TV, mass screening of Hepatitis B and C and observation of world Hepatitis Day on 28 July.
With this campaign, he appealed the political leaders, government, and other key stake holders to take immediate steps to tackle the issue of Hepatitis B and C in the state.