In order to boost awareness about hepatitis, the World Health Organization has appointed Amitabh Bachchan as its goodwill ambassador.
Hepatitis kills 4, 10,000 people in South East Asia, region every year, out of which 60% is in India due to different types of Hepatitis related issues. 90 million people suffer from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the region says latest WHO report. After Amitabh Bacchant’s accident on the sets of Coolie, in 1982 he was infused with the blood of about 200 donors and 60 bottles of blood were injected into his system. The Australian antigen Hepatitis B had only been detected three months ago and it was very new for being detected also among various tests needed to be carried out before giving blood to another patient. During normal medical check-up, he was told that his liver was infected.
Speaking about his experience, he said.
“I am surviving only on 25 per cent of my liver today having lost the rest 75 percent to the deadly hepatitis B virus. It came accidentally to me. I continued to function normally till year 2000 and almost 18 years after the accident. It’s very hard. I want to make an impactful, strong and effective awareness campaign. I am committed to this cause,” said Amitabh Bachchan.
“We need a holistic approach to eradicate hepatitis from our country. I hope as we defeated polio, we will eradicate hepatitis too, I would be happy to announce then India is hepatitis free,” said Bachchan.
He also appreciated the extensive work done by workers during the polio awareness campaign. He said that like polio workers who visit remote regions, their contribution in the hepatitis campaign will play a vital role.
Hepatitis B vaccination is a dose with is administered within 24 hours of birth followed by three doses in the first six months of life, as per national immunisation schedule of countries in the South East Asian region.
Addressing the media Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South East Asia said, “There are high numbers of premature deaths and illness from viral hepatitis. It is a huge burden. For this prevention, advocacy of early diagnosis and treatment is vital
“The hepatitis vaccination gives protection and prevents mother to child transmission of the disease. As far as India is concerned the cost of this vaccination is still not affordable to a large number of people. So work needs to be done on how this can be made affordable by the government. As we work on knowledge based techniques and not on operational basis”. Singh added.
Highlighting the points which need to be considered in order to reduce hepatitis, Henk Bekedam, WHO, World Health Organisation’s representative in India said, “Safe practices related to injection and blood transfusions can prevent the spread of Hepatitis B and C. Also clean water, hygiene food can reduce the risk of Hepatitis A and E infection.