New 35 treatment centres for free  treatment of Hepatitis C: Balbir Singh Sidhu

New 35 treatment centers for free  treatment of Hepatitis C: Balbir Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, July 28:

            Witnessing the 93 percent cure rate of Hepatitis treatment in the State, Punjab Government has decided to dedicate 35 additional treatment centers for Hepatitis C. This program started with 25 treatment centers, and now in 2020, Punjab State has increased the treatment sites to 60. It was disclosed by the Health & Family Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu on the occasion of ‘World Hepatitis Day’.

          The Minister said that Punjab was the first state in India to start Hepatitis C treatment and Since then, we have tested more than 1.63 lakh persons. Out of which 85,000 people were put over on treatment of Hepatitis C. All the services are available free of cost in Govt Hospitals.

          Mr. Sidhu further said that last year, on World Hepatitis Day, Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab Government to start the free treatment services of Hepatitis C in jails where screening of inmates is done inside prisons and treatment of Hepatitis C is provided in the jails. He said that Punjab’s pioneering work is paving the way for generating evidence to inform global and national policymakers.

          This year, Special drive would be conducted to screen all pregnant women for Hepatitis B and children for Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin (HBIG) born to the hepatitis B infected mothers adding that he said  Punjab became also, the first state to initiate Hepatitis C testing and treatment of people living with HIV under the Unitaid-supported HEAD-Start program in partnership with FIND and CHAI. Under this campaign, testing of around 80 percent of people living with HIV has been completed.

          The Health Minister divulged that SDH (Sub-District Hospital) Batala would be the first Sub-Divisional Hospital to provide testing and treatment of hepatitis C. With this initiative, the Testing, and treatment of Hepatitis C would make closer to people and moving further towards decentralization of hepatitis C services.

          The Cabinet Minister applauded that all of this could be possible only because of our highly motivated healthcare workers backed by the strong political will to combat viral hepatitis. He said that today, the whole world is fighting with COVID-19 and it has taught us the importance of a robust public health system. There is a need to bridge the gap between multiple programs through collaborative efforts, partnerships, and integration within the existing healthcare system.

          Mr. Sidhu stated that the State Government is also going to start a research project, in collaboration with PGI and CHAI, to understand the underlying Risk Factors associated with hepatitis C in Punjab. In the next 18 months, experts will present their findings so that it can take a focused approach to curtail the risk factors. It will help us to move faster towards the elimination of hepatitis C from the state of Punjab. The Government of Punjab is fully committed to working together towards a ‘Hepatitis-Free future’.

          On this occasion, a 4-year journey of Punjab for Hepatitis and IEC material for Hepatitis released on World Hepatitis Day released by Health Minister Punjab and ACS Health Mr. Anurag Agarwal.

          MD NHM, Mr. Kumar Rahul MD PHSC, Mrs. Tanu Kashyap DHS Dr. Avneet Kaur, State Programme Officer Dr. Gagandeep Singh Grover, and other senior officers were also present.

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