In a bid to push Hepatitis treatment in Manipur under the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NVHCP), treatment centres will be made available in all the districts, including the newly created districts of the state soon.
State nodal officer, National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme, National Health Mission, Manipur, Dr RK Rosie said in an interaction with the Imphal Free Press.
Rosie said that NVHCP was rolled out in the state on July 28 last coinciding with the World Hepatitis Day. However, it was launched by the Government of India on the same date in the year 2018 with an objective to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.
The Nodal officer further said that during the first year of its implementation, the viral Hepatitis C (Hep-C) treatment was made available in all the nine parents districts of Manipur, namely, Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Chandel.
“The authority concerned is putting all efforts to open treatment centres in the newly created districts such as Jiribam, Kangpokpi, Kakching, Tengnoupal, Kamjong, Noney and Pherzawl,” she added.
The nodal officer maintained that Manipur is among the states with high number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The rate of viral hepatitis infection might be high as it is one of the co-infectious disease of HIV/AIDS, she noted and added that opening more treatment centres is must so that free treatment could be availed to every nook and corner of the state.
She further said that even though the treatment centres are not available in every districts, testing facility is available in all the districts of the state except Jiribam and Kangpokpi. Nevertheless, even in these remaining districts , it will be made available by the end of October, she assured.
Rosie further informed that 571 people are being treated during this one year of implementation of the programme. Of the 571 cases, 424 has completed their course and 133 are completely cured. More persons might have been cured had the COVID-19 pandemic not disrupt all normal functioning, she said.
The nodal officer also said that enrolling new patients under NVHCP was halted for few months due to lack of viral load testing facility as it was wholly engaged for COVID-19 testing.
However, considering the severity of this ailment, we had tied up with BABINA Diagnostics and resume the program from mid August, added Rosie. She said that those patients who had started receiving treatment before advent of Corona pandemic are still receiving the treatment without any disturbance.
During lockdown period, the health department arranged for disbursal of medicines for those who are under treatment in their respective district hospital or through NGO, she added.
While appreciating NGOs of the state working in the field of Hepatitis C, she said that NGOs such as Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Churachandpur and YRG-Care play an important role in taking the NVHCP to this level.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, CoNE has been trying their best in linking Hepatitis C patients from far flung areas and in dire need of treatment with the health department, she pointed out.
She also said that before the programme is being rolled out in the state, free treatment was already started by CoNe, YRG-Care and MSF Churachandpur and expressed confidence that such support and coordination will be continuously extended from dedicated NGOs.
“The state was about to begin Hepatitis B treatment too but due to COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn't able to begin as medicines are yet to be received from government of India. The service hasn't started in all the other Northeastern states as well,” she said.
The nodal officer also informed that they are planning to tie up with Manipur State AIDS Control Society once the Hepatitis B treatment is started in the state.
The steps were taken up to ensure that Hepatitis B is being tested and vaccinated by all the pregnant women, she added.