Punjab launches programme to identify & treat Hepatitis C cases in Central Jails
KS Diwan/ royalpatiala.in/ Chandigarh
Becoming the first State in the country, the Punjab Government today launched the dedicated programme to identify cases of Hepatitis C in Central Jails. The State Government is also bearing the cost of test of Viral Load of Hepatitis C, for which patients were paying Rs. 881 earlier.
Health & Family Welfare Minister, Balbir Singh Sidhu disclosed that the Health Department inked the MoU with FIND (Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics) to identify and treat cases of Hepatitis C in Central Jails.
Sidhu said that the Punjab Government is initiating the process of conducting test of Hepatitis ‘C’ at 9 central jails in August, 2019. Besides this, the remaining jails will be connected to these 9 central jails for testing and management of Hepatitis C and the process will be completed in a phased manner.
Highlighting the cure rate of Hepatitis C in the State, the Health Minister divulged that with the tireless efforts made by the officers and staff of Health Department, more than 67,000 patients of Hepatitis C have been put on treatment while cure rate among these cases of Hepatitis C is approximately 93 percent and Punjab emerged as model for other States of our Country under National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme. He said that there is still need to pay more attention in Districts Tarn taran and Sangrur where number of cases of Heaptitis C is higher than other districts.
Sidhu also said that Punjab Government is bearing the cost of test of Viral Load of Hepatitis C, for which patients were earlier paying Rs. 881. Whereas medicines of hepatitis C which have a very high market price for full treatment are already being provided free of cost to patients of hepatitis C in these hospitals.
Congratulating the officers for doing an excellent job in controlling Hepatitis C, the Health Minister said that he appreciates the Medical Specialists working in Government Medical Colleges and District Hospitals, District Epidemiologists and their teams, Staff of Punjab State AIDS Control Society, Punjab Health Systems Corporation and State team of IDSP for this stupendous effort.
Anurag Agarwal Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare on the occasion said that with support of FIND (Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics), health department has screened free of cost more than 18000 HIV patients for Hepatitis C. He further said that CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative), ECHO (Extension of Health Care Outcomes) and PGI also provide support to the Health Department in disseminating the knowledge about Hepatitis C.
Anurag Aggarwal also said that in collaboration with PGI, a special programme will also be launched for screening and testing of Hepatitis C among IVDUs (Intravenous Drug Users) at de-addiction centres.
PK Sinha ADGP Department of Prisons said that Punjab is the first State in country to undertake this initiative of screening and controlling of Hepatitis C in high risk areas. He assured the Health Minister and dignitaries present on the occasion that special teams would be placed in all central jails to run this drive successfully. He said that this drive will be a major step in prevention of spread of Hepatitis C by identifying the cases so that treatment could be provided to jail inmates at the earliest.
Dr. Sanjay Sarin, Head of FIND India said, “We are pleased to partner with the Directorate of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Punjab to target micro elimination of HCV among the prison inmates in Punjab. He said that prison inmates are classified as a high risk case for HCV infection and there is an urgent need to develop innovative service delivery models and targeted interventions aimed at early diagnosis and linkage to treatment in this key population.”