Eliminating viral hepatitis – is India ready for the challenge?
Viral hepatitis affects 400 million people globally. Every year 6–10 million people are newly infected. But almost all those infected, as many as 90 per cent, are not aware of their infection. New treatments can now successfully treat almost all hepatitis C infections in just three to six months. Only a few years ago, hepatitis C was a killer disease. This is why a new campaign to eradicate viral hepatitis by 2030 has been launched on World Hepatitis Day this year. For India, addressing the emerging problem of viral hepatitis, raising awareness, screening and treating the many millions infected, will test its commitment to public health to the limit.
New Hepatitis C treatment goals – achievable or impossible?
While many health activists are complaining about the price of treatment, there has been a revolution in access over the past decade, with great progress being made to make treatment affordable. In this article James Snodgrass looks at access, voluntary licenses and the challenges for cash strapped governments of addressing the health needs of marginalised populations
Punjab’s hepatitis crisis
A special fund launched by the local administration for free treatment of Hep C patients in the north Indian state of Punjab has significantly boosted the fight against this killer disease. Together with a sharp drop in prices of the Hep C super drug, Sofosbuvir, after global pharma company Gilead licensed 11 India firms to make much cheaper generic versions, much needed access to treatment in Punjab is looking hopeful. Yet questions remain on the woefully inadequate public health system’s ability to deliver free treatment to Hep C patients across the state, where in many districts the disease has reached epidemic proportions. Ajoy Bose reports on the issues.
What can the 2030 hepatitis goals learn from polio eradication?
India has already successfully tackled polio, declared polio free in 2013 with the rest of South East Asia. For a country with over one billion citizens, this achievement is significant. But India now faces another equally tough challenge: to contain another silent killer, hepatitis C. In this article Jenny Kowalczuk looks at lessons for eliminating viral hepatits that can be learnt from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.