Hepatitis C in Punjab: 23% patients are in two districts of Malwa | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Hepatitis C in Punjab: 23% patients are in two districts of Malwa

27,000 people in state found afflicted with contagious virus, most of them in Malwa region. After Muktsar was ranked among the country’s dirtiest cities under the Swachh Survekshan-2017, there is more bad news for the district.

punjab Updated: May 17, 2017 21:30 IST
Avtar Singh and Sarbmeet Singh
Under the ‘Mukh Mantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund’ scheme, every patient at the government hospitals undergoes the diagnosis.
Under the ‘Mukh Mantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund’ scheme, every patient at the government hospitals undergoes the diagnosis.(Shutterstock)

After Muktsar was ranked among the country’s dirtiest cities under the Swachh Survekshan-2017, there is more bad news for the district.

Muktsar, along with Sangrur district, accounts for almost one fourth of the hepatitis C cases detected in Punjab under an ongoing programme.

“If not cured in time, hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer.”

As per the diagnostic count in the past one year, Sangrur has the highest number of 3,981 cases of hepatitis C, followed by Muktsar with 2,444. The state has 27,198 such cases. Hepatitis is a contagious infection of the liver. These cases were detected during the diagnostic count under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund scheme launched on June 18, 2016.

Other vulnerable districts include Moga (2,308), Tarn Taran (2,205), Bathinda (1,945) and Mansa (1,550).

FREE TREATMENT

Under the relief fund scheme, every patient at the government hospitals undergoes the diagnosis. If found afflicted with the virus, he or she is enrolled for treatment. The treatment in the form of medication is free under the scheme.

“Tests, which cost between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 in private labs, are done at Rs 2,200. If not cured in time, hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer,” said Dr Gurinder Kaur at the Muktsar civil hospital.

How it spreads
  • Injecting drug through used syringes, needles
  • Reuse or inadequate sterilisation of medical equipment, especially syringes and needles
  • Transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products
  • Sexual transmission, or from an infected mother to her baby (Not common)

Muktsar district health officials said the results of the special diagnostic drive show the incidence rate of hepatitis C virus to be high. “A sizeable number of patients who come with complaints such as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine or grey-coloured faeces have been found to be affected by hepatitis C,” she said.

Dr Vikram Asjia, scheme coordinator for Muktsar district, said the number of hepatitis C patients has gone up due to “increased awareness level” and more than 1,000 people have been treated successfully. “The problem is being constantly monitored,” he added.

‘MANY CAUGHT UNAWARES’

In many cases, the patients, who arrived at the civil hospital for one or the other ailment, were caught unawares when diagnosed with hepatitis C.

Ramanpreet Kaur had to postpone her trip to Canada after being found infected with the disease. “Due to health reasons, we had to postpone my marriage,” said Ramanpreet, who was spotted at the civil hospital.

Shafian, who came to Sangrur civil hospital from Malerkotla, had to be operated for an intestinal disease but the pre-operation tests detected hepatitis C too. In Sangrur, the prevalence of hepatitis C virus was in rural areas of Malerkotla and Dhuri blocks as per the survey conducted by the district medical officers.

The negligence of dental doctors was being seen as one of the major causes for the spread of the disease.