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Experts sound hepatitis alert

Deceased liver donations account for just 0.02% of all donations, for which many people needing a liver transplant die because they cannot find a donor. Jaya Shroff Bhalla reports

india Updated: Dec 05, 2010 00:24 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

Deceased liver donations account for just 0.02% of all donations, for which many people needing a liver transplant die because they cannot find a donor.

"The demand for new transplants is as high as 50,000 a year, but India meets hardly 10% of the need," said Dr S.K. Sarin, director, Institute of Liver and Billiary Sciences (ILBS), Vasant Kunj, on Saturday. "Hepatitis is the most common cause for liver failure and to prevent it, the health ministry should include hepatitis vaccination as part of its national immunization programme."

Compulsory hepatitis vaccination is done in some states. "Delhi is among the first states that made it mandatory to immunize a child against hepatitis infection in 2000 but even a decade later, most states are still to follow suit," said Dr Sarin, speaking on Hepatitis Day.

However, 90% of Delhi's population is not yet vaccinated against Hepatitis B, which kills more people than HIV/AIDS, Delhi health minister Kiran Walia said on Saturday.

Hepatitis A and E, which spread through contaminated food and water, are the most common cause of acute liver failure.

"Of all children suffering from Hepatitis A, there is chance that 0.1% will develop acute liver failure but 30% of them will die," said Dr Anupam Sibal, pediatric liver specialist and medical director, Apollo Hospital.

Dr Sibal stressed the need for preventive measures besides immunization.

Ashok K Chauhan, founder president, Amity Group, announced the launch of Amity Foundation for Hepatitis Prevention and Control to supplement government efforts to check the spread of disease.

With inputs from PTI