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At 60%, Malwa region leads in hepatitis C cases in Punjab

Sangrur tops chart with 7,404 cases from June 2016 to August this year

punjab Updated: Aug 22, 2018 11:27 IST
Sunil Rahar
Sunil Rahar
Hindustan Times, Patiala
health,Punjab,Malwa region

Though the Punjab government started the Mukh Mantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund on June 6, 2016, to eradicate the infectious disease, the state has reported 51,016 cases between June 7, 2016, and August 18, 2018, as per the health and family welfare department data.

The Malwa region tops the list with 30,063 cases, 60% of the total cases reported in the state. Sangrur district alone has recorded 7,404 cases, the highest in the state, followed by Tarn Taran 4,423, Muktsar 4,040 and Patiala 2,004 in two years. The situation is better in Pathankot and Mohali districts with 86 and 315 cases, respectively.

Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. It is characterised by fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The virus can be transmitted by sharing of syringe and needles, transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

Giving reasons for the rise in hepatitis C cases in the Malwa region, particularly in Sangrur, state hepatitis programme officer Dr Gagandeep Grover said patients don’t come for tests due to lack of awareness. He said the state health department was making efforts to identify the patients in an initial stage. “An estimated 4 lakh patients are yet to be identified. We will study the causes for the spurt in hepatitis C cases in the Malwa belt,” he said.

Last year, the state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a global health non-profit organisation based in Geneva, to help it diagnose and then treat hepatitis C. The state provides hepatitis C treatment at 22 district hospitals along with three government medical colleges at Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot. The government has also announced to reduce the prices of diagnostic tests to ₹881 for HCV (hepatitis C virus) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) and ₹895 of genotyping from ₹1,800. The government is also providing medicines free of cost.

Dr Gurmeet Singh, district hepatitis programme officer, Patiala, said the suspected patients will be identified by conducting HCV Elisa test. Following this, they will have to undergo viral RNA load test. “Patients will be declared hepatitis C-free after they test negative for SVR (sustained viral response),” he added.

Patiala civil surgeon Dr Manjeet Singh said patients can be cured within six months.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 11:26 IST