Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, July 28:
Unknown to many, Hepatitis ‘B’ and ‘C’ kill 1.5 million people worldwide annually even though a very effective vaccine against the virus has been available for over three decades, experts said at an awareness campaign in the Odisha capital on Tuesday.
“People don’t know that though cancer and AIDS are known killers, the Hepatitis-B virus is 100 times more infectious than HIV,” Dr Manoj Kumar Sahu, Head of the department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology department of Institute of Medical Sciences and Sum Hospital (IMSSH) under the SOA University, told several hundred students on the occasion of the World Hepatitis Day.
Hepatitis B and C are more virulent infections and destroy the liver and approximately 500 million people suffer from the disease. “But a wonderful vaccine against the infection is available since 1982 which has an outstanding record of safety and effectiveness,” Sahu said, addressing Scout and Guide cadets at the Odisha State Scouts and Guides Headquarters here.
The awareness campaign was jointly organized by IMSSH and state Scouts and Guides.
Sahu said there were five strains of the Hepatitis virus— A, B, C, D and E, of which A and E were transmitted through contaminated food and water. But the other three infections were spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids in the same manner the HIV entered the human body.
The infection, which also spreads through invasive medical procedures with contaminated equipment, needles, blades and sexual contact, could lead to advanced liver scarring or cirrhosis and other complications including liver failure or cancer.
The IMS and Sum Hospital has been extending free vaccination against Hepatitis-B to the people who should take advantage of the same, Dr. Sahu said.
Manoranjan Mohanty, former judge, who also addressed the cadets stressed the need for eradicating virulent diseases like Hepatitis while pointing out that the relentless fight against scourges like smallpox and polio had succeeded in India. Vaccination can help eradicate this infection too, he said.
Dr PK Mohanty, Medical Superintendent of Sum Hospital and Dr Rajesh Pradhan, Associate Professor in the Gastroenterology department of Sum Hospital also spoke.
Gopabandhu Kar, Managing Member of SOA University, was also present.
KP Mishra, State Chief Commissioner of Scouts and Guides presided over the function while RM Dora, Secretary of the organization, introduced the guests.