Health minister Raghu Sharma launched on Friday the Centre’s National Viral Hepatitis Control programme in Rajasthan, saying people will be made aware about hepatitis.According to the World Health Organisation, hepatitis is an inflammation of liver. It can cause fibrosis (scarring) and cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are A, B, C, D and E.Sharma said Rajasthan is the second state after Punjab to launch the programme. Three model centres will be set up in the state for screening, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B and C at Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College in Jaipur, Jawahar Lal Nehru (JLN) Medical College in Ajmer and Dr SN Medical College in Jodhpur. Hepatitis diagnosis and treatment centres will be set up at all the district hospitals.“Necessary medicines for hepatitis B and C are being sent to all the district hospitals, which will be provided free of cost to patients,” the minister said.According to WHO, types B and C lead to chronic diseases and are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis. Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water, while hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids. Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, and invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment. Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to baby, from a family member to child and also by unprotected sexual contact.Sharma said under this programme doctors of the state have been sent to central institutions for training. “Now these doctors will train other doctors in the state,” he added. “During institutional deliveries, all newborns are being given hepatitis dose free of cost. Pregnant women during antenatal care are screened and on finding hepatitis positive, they are given free treatment.”On this occasion, WHO representative to India Henk Bekedam said, “Hepatitis is a serious problem and there is need to create awareness among doctors and general public.”Union health joint secretary Vikas Sheel said under the programme, treatment will be started this year at the three model treatment centres and at the district level. “Later this facility will be provided at block level.”He said under the programme around 5 crore people will be screened and provided treatment. All pregnant women will be screened and provided treatment during antenatal care and during institutional deliveries, the newborns will be administered the hepatitis dose.“With starting of this facility, the problem of hepatitis will be controlled by 2080,” Sheel said, emphasising that all health personnel are vaccinated with hepatitis vaccine. He said a national call centre will be started on World Hepatitis Day on July 28.On this occasion, mission director, national health mission, Dr Samit Sharma, union health ministry’s additional director Dr Sandhya Kabra, Sawai Man Singh Medical College principal Dr Sudhir Bhandari, director public health Dr VK Mathur and others were present.Health department officers, chief medical and health officers and principal medical officers across the state were also present.