Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) is set to launch EMPATHY (Empowering People Against Hepatitis) campaign, to bring together policy makers, health activists and social influencers on July 27, World Hepatitis Day. The conclave is a CSR initiative of Airport Authority of India (AAI), on World Hepatitis Day to address the issue.
With 1.5 lakh deaths annually and almost 60 million Indians affected, viral hepatitis continues to be a serious public health concern.
EMPATHY Conclave 2019 is part of a mega awareness drive on hepatitis initiated by ILBS to discuss effective ways of addressing the chronic disease.
The campaign will focus on spreading awareness about HBV & HCV and address the stigma associated with the disease by encouraging dialogue among policy makers, programme managers, care providers, civil society and the patients.
“Several instances of discrimination and rejection against people with hepatitis have come to light over the past few years including in the field of medicine. Not only have people been denied jobs because of being diagnosed with hepatitis, many are also denied work visas to some countries if they are victims of hepatitis B. This is why we feel that government should initiate strong policy measures to address discrimination and stigmatization of patients. Enacting a law to ensure right to live without discrimination must also be considered,” said the gastroenterologist & hepatologist Dr S K Sarin, Director of ILBS, while addressing a recent conference at ILBS.
According to WHO estimates, viral hepatitis has caused 1.34 million deaths globally in 2015, a number comparable to deaths due to tuberculosis worldwide. Whereas, In India, it is estimated that 4 crore people are suffering from hepatitis B and 0.6-1.2 crore people are suffering from hepatitis C.