Government to launch new scheme for free treatment of Hepatitis C
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is going to roll out National Programme for Control of Viral Hepatitis , a new scheme free treatment of Hepatitis C from the 2018-19 financial year.
Under the new scheme, the focus will be on anti-viral treatment of Hepatitis C which will be provided free at all government health set-ups. For this government has embarked budget of Rs 600 crore for the next three years.
The Health Ministry is looking at screening vulnerable groups, including drug users and people who underwent surgeries/ blood transfusion before 2002, when the screening protocol was not robust. Moreover it is in informal talks with Indian companies which manufacture Sofosbuvir on behalf of American pharma giant Gilead, to negotiate the price for a national programme. Sofosbuvir is recommended under the new WHO treatment guidelines for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is infectious disease caused by blood-borne virus hepatitis C virus (HCV) that primarily affects the liver. Significant number of people infected with Hepatitis C develop cirrhosis of liver or liver cancer, which are responsible for 3,99,000 Hepatitis C deaths annually across the world. About 1.2 crore people in India are reported to be suffering from Hepatitis C— six times the number of HIV/AIDS patients.
Hepatitis C can spread through use of injectable drugs, unsafe health care, unsafe injection practises and transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. However, unlike Hepatitis B, it is not sexually transmitted. There is no known vaccine for Hepatitis C.