India is all set to emerge as the global capital of the dreaded Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), according to a team of doctors from MIOT Hospital in Chennai. “Forty two million Indians suffer from chronic Hepatitis B infection. The Hepatitis B Virus is responsible for 60% of liver cancer cases in India,” said Dr Arul Prakash, leading gastroenterologist, MIOT Hospital.
He said conditions in India with reference to Hepatitis B vaccine is shocking. “We found that not even 1% of school children have been vaccinated against HBV. This is more shocking since there are effective vaccines available all over the world. Though a vaccine against HBV was developed in 1970, we are yet to take HBV seriously,” said Dr Prakash.
According to Dr PVA Mohandas, director, MIOT Hospital, there are 400 million people chronically infected by the HBV. “What is worrying is the fact that 40% of these people will end up in cirrhosis and liver cancer,” said Dr Mohandas.
The team unleashed a blitzkrieg to spread a campaign on awareness programme against the HBV, a disease Dr Mohandas describes as worse as HIV/AIDS.
The team has drafted cine artist Vikram as their brand ambassador for their awareness campaign against HBV. Last Sunday saw more than 22,000 school children from 13 schools in Chennai city being given free vaccination coupons against HBV. “We have set up an Advanced Centre For Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseasesfor spreading the message about HBV all over India,” said Dr Mohandas.