Knowledge is the key weapon fighting against Hepatitis
Hepatitis or inflammation of liver caused by viruses (A, B, C, D and E) affects millions of people. Around one crore people have been suffering from hepatitis B and C virus in Bangladesh. Many of these people do not have adequate access to care — increasing their risk for premature death from liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Most people who have been infected are unaware of asymptomatic infections in hepatitis until they reach the end stage liver disease. Experts says that awareness and knowledge are the key factors to prevent and control the huge burden of hepatitis.
Although there is vaccine that has been incorporated in national immunisation schedule, EPI against hepatitis B virus, it remains the most common cause of death due to viral hepatitis. There is also vaccine against hepatitis A that is transmitted through contaminated food and drink commonly affects children. This vaccine is however not included in EPI, but can be given to children to prevent hepatitis A.
Hepatitis C is the most fatal virus which remains silent and there is no vaccine to prevent it. The ways to prevent these viruses (B and C) are safe blood transfusion, use of sterile medical instrument, safe sex practice and safe delivery practice of affected pregnant women and vaccination of the newborn.
If someone is diagnosed with hepatitis, especially B and C, is usually terrified with some misinformation that s/he will reach invariably to the end stage liver disease. But many of them are just carrier and need to be under follow up at regular interval. When the liver functions are impairing due to viral activity, there are antiviral drugs to control viral activity and limit liver damage.
Prof Mohammed Ali, a pioneer of liver transplant surgery in Bangladesh and founder Secretary General of Liver Foundation Bangladesh stressed to implement national population based survey for detection of incidence of Hepatitis B and C in Bangladesh. He also emphasised on reduction of vaccine price and cost of medicine which would be within the reach of common people.