Hepatitis-C: Residents raise awareness as Govt fails to deliver

Hepatitis-C: Residents raise awareness as Govt fails to deliver

All components of the program were themed on Hepatitis-C, its causes, modes of transmission and prevention.

As Hepatitis-C infection is spreading fast in several villages of Kokernag in South Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district, the inhabitants have taken a lead over the health authorities by starting mass awareness programs.

On Sunday, the villagers organized awareness programs under the banner of civil society Zalangam. People from many villages of the area participated in the program which was kicked off with a road show. The participants were holding placards with awareness slogans about Hepatitis-C and marched through several villages.

Later a function was organized in which school teachers and students also participated. Participants from Government High School Zalangam, Breng Institute of Academics and Care, Government Girls Middle School Zalangam, Al-Firdous Institute Zalangam performed skits, songs, Ladishah and delivered speeches.

All components of the program were themed on Hepatitis-C, its causes, modes of transmission and prevention.

Several doctors of the area also gave their advice on the preventive aspects and treatment of the disease.

Hepatitis-C was first detected in the area in Takia Magam and Sonbarie villages in the year 2013 and the number of patients has now reached 1100 with around 10 death reported. The infection has also spread to Sagam, Zalangam, Watinar, Khalihar, Kehripora, Kandiwara and Warwan villages. The health authorities who were initially in denial mode later acknowledged the problem after series of reports by Greater Kashmir and have now started mass screening of a few affected villages. In Sagam village alone, as reported by this newspaper, at least 65 people, who went for investigation from private diagnostic centers and SKIMS suspecting infection, have tested positive. Doctors in SKIMS also confirm that 80 percent people from Kokerrnag area who underwent investigations tested positive for the infection.

According to public health experts every patient needs close monitoring during treatment and the cost may go up to Rs 2 lakh. While some of the poor villagers have decided to go for treatment after selling their land, the only source of their livelihood, others who can’t afford have left it untreated.

Though the government has recently started treatment of 200 odd patients in Takia Magam village following the reports carried by this newspaper, in absence of treatment of other infected patients and remedial measures the infection is spreading. The medicos have been emphasizing on education and awareness among the people besides necessary treatment of the already infected to prevent further spread of infection. According to them, blood transfusion, usage of infected needles and unhygienic dental practices are primary causes of infection. However, the health authorities have been sleeping over the issue. 

“Neither any awareness program is being initiated by government nor there has been any check on the unhygienic dental and medical practitioners operating in the area,” a medico said.

He said that only closing unregistered chemists, diagnostic laboratories and dental clinics won’t do.