Thursday, 17 October 2013

The silent killer

It is a silent killer and it kills as many people as do HIV/AIDS. In India alone, more than 2.5 lakhs people die annually because of this but the Government is yet to come forward with a policy to tackle this dreaded illness.
Sadly, one person in twelve is affected by this in the world. Yet, many nations have neglected it and they have treated it casually despite growing numbers of people succumbing to it.
In India, more than 500 million people are affected by the illness. Strangely, neither the Government nor the State medical machinery seems to be seized of the matter. What is more worrying is that there is no movement the lines of anti-AIDS and anti-HIV programmes or campaigns to tackle this dreaded illness.
This illness is hepatitis and more and more people are falling prey to it. Though the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a day in July as World Hepatitis Day, awareness of this illness is meagre among victims and their nonchalance appalling.
Hepatitis is irritation, swelling or deformity of the liver.     
Generally, people associate hepatitis with viral infection. What they fail to realise is that there are different varieties of infection and though they are all generally classified under hepatitis, they are not all similar or related.
The most common causes of viral hepatitis are the five unrelated hepatotropic viruses hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Yes, the most common cause of hepatitis is viral but the inflammation of lover can also lead to several other illness such as Yellow fever, Herpes Simplex.
Hepatitis can be acute (here, the inflammation of the liver is for  less than six months) or chronic (inflammation lasts more than six months). This can be caused by hepatitis viruses, including A, B, C, D, and E or even other lesser known viruses.
Today, a major cause for hepatitis in India is due to alcohol and drug consumption. The third leading factor is due to the presence of highly dangerous toxins in the environment.
AA little more than 500 million people in India are living with chronic viral hepatitis in India, and a majority of them are affected by B and C virus which is the common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer. Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water and there have been reports of such cases in Bangalore.
In India, Hepatitis B, C and D generally occur due to contact with infected body fluids. Though approximately 3.5 lakhs people die annually from hepatitis C-related liver diseases, 70 per cent and above of people show no initial symptoms. By the time, it is diagnosed, it is invariably late.
Studies by medical institutions and organizations have tabulated that at least 20 million Indians carry hepatitis B virus and 8 million to ten million carry Hepatitis C virus. Shocking though, the Government does not seem to be too much bothered about these statistics.
The WHO itself has noted that there is no routine surveillance and also that deaths due to the virus are neither reported to a central registry nor recorded with a agency. Therefore, exact statistics about the deaths due to the illness is not completely accurate.
Hepatitis can be prevented but what is shocking is that the  number of  deaths due to this illness has been going up since 1990. There was 986000 deaths in 1990 and now the figure is an astounding 1.4 million. This matches the number of people killed by AIDS every year.  
More than 70 per cent f the worldwide deaths due to hepatitis occurs in the Asia Pacific region. This translates to a million people dying in this region and on average one person dying every 30 seconds.
Studies have shown that 65 per cent of people in Asia live with chronic hepatitis B and 75 per cent with hepatitis C, but a majority of these are unaware of the infection. In India, the most common reason for many hepatitis outbreaks are generally associated with fecal contamination of drinking water.
The earliest hepatitis outbreak attributed to HEV was the 1955 waterborne outbreak in Delhi which affected 29,000 people. The reason: contamination of city’s drinking water by raw sewage. India apart from Pakistan, China, Nepal and Myanmar regularly report hepatitis E outbreak. In India,  E was first recognized when it appeared in Kashmir in 1978.
Approximately, four in 100 Indians are infected with Hepatitis B and one in 100 with Hepatitis C virus. Studies have shown that 40 million people in India are infected by hepatitis B and blood donors are more prone to contact this illness. 

No comments:

Post a Comment