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Amitabh Bachchan appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for Hepatitis in South-East Asia Region

World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed Amitabh Bachchan as its Goodwill Ambassador for Hepatitis in South-East Asia Region. He has been appointed to boost awareness to stop the spread of hepatitis, which is one of the leading causes of liver cancer and cirrhosis. As an ambassador, Amitabh Bachchan will participate in public awareness programmes to scale up prevention measures, early diagnosis and treatment.

It is estimated that around 325 million across the world suffer from chronic hepatitis which is an inflammation of the liver resulting in liver scarring, liver cancer and death if untreated.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis viruses is one of the common cause of liver damage but other infections, toxic substances such as alcohol, certain medicine, food contaminants, bad lifestyle and autoimmune diseases may also result in chronic hepatitis.

Of the five hepatitis viruses, namely, types A, B, C, D and E, types B and C are the most deadly. These two types are mostly responsible for liver damage. Hepatitis viruses B, C and D spread by contact with contaminated blood or body fluids. Hepatitis A and E spreads through unsafe food and drink. Symptoms of Hepatitis include  yellowing of the skin and eyes, abdominal pain and swelling, yellow urine, pale or dark stools, chronic fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite. Hepatitis B vaccination are administered at 0, 1, 2, and 6 months to children to protect them against the disease as well as to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease.

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Parliament passes HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017

Parliament has passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017. It is the first national HIV law in South Asia.

The Bill seeks to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. It aims to prevent social stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Key Provisions
  • Prevention and control the spread of HIV and AIDS. It prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
  • Privacy of PLHIV: No person will be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order.
  • Establishments keeping records of information of PLHIV must adopt data protection measures.
  • Prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and PLHIV.
  • Safeguarding Rights: Obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
  • Strengthen legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances to probe discrimination complaints against those who discriminate against PLHIV.
  • It ensures that no HIV test, medical treatment or research is conducted on a person without his informed consent.
  • Grounds of discrimination: Lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
  • These include the denial, discontinuation, termination or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, renting property etc.
  • Bans unfair treatment of people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities, such as shops, hotels, restaurants, public entertainment venues, public facilities and burial grounds.
  • Pre-requisite HIV testing: Prohibits, requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education. 
Background

There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India. The prevalence of HIV in India is decreasing since last decade but percentage of PLHIV receiving Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) treatment is merely 28.82% against global percentage of 41%. The Bill will provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in arresting new spread of HIV infections and thereby achieving the target of “Ending the epidemic by 2030” to meet goal Sustainable Development Goals.

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March 24: World TB Day

The World Tuberculosis Day (WTD) is observed every year on March 24 to raise public awareness about the global epidemic of Tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease.

WTD is observed to commemorate discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacillus (bacteria) causing TB on 24th March, 1882 by German microbiologist Dr Robert Koch. This discovery had opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB. It is one of eight official global public health campaigns observed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

2017 Theme (Campaign): “Unite to End TB”. This year it is second year of a two year “United to End TB” Campaign. WHO has placed special focus on uniting efforts to “Leave no one behind” including actions to address stigma, discrimination, marginalization and overcome barriers to access care.

On this occasion, WHO also released TB Ethics guidelines to ensure that the countries while implementing the End TB strategy adhere to sound ethical standards to protect the rights of all those affected.

About Tuberculosis (TB)

  • TB is a disease caused by bacteria “Mycobacterium tuberculosis” that most often affect the lungs. The disease is spread from person to person through the air.
  • It commonly affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. It is the second biggest killer disease worldwide next only to HIV/AIDS. It can be completely cured with proper and regular medication.
  • According to WHO, in 2015, 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and 1.8 million died from the disease. Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

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