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SOA launches tribal-centric Hepatitis Mission in Odisha

Bhubaneswar, July 28: Coinciding with the World Hepatitis Day, Health and Family Welfare Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak on Thursday flagged off a new initiative focused on the State’s tribal population aiming at building awareness, prevention and eventual eradication of Viral Hepatitis.

The action plan, SOA-Adivasi Hepatitis Mission (SOA-AHM), has been prepared by the SOA University which has been actively involved in the fight against the dreaded infection.

Addressing a programme jointly organised by the SOA University and State branch of Odisha Scouts and Guides here to mark the occasion, the Minister focused on increased awareness about the Hepatitis virus while calling for united efforts by the government and private sector institutions in health care initiatives.

The Minister said the Government was planning to set up low cost hospitals in the districts in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode so that health care could be provided to the people at their door step. He said the stage had been set for commencement of liver transplantation at the SCB Medical College Hospital at Cuttack.

Elaborating on the action plan, SOA University Vice-Chancellor Prof Amit Banerjee said the university was in touch with the Government, NGOs as well as other agencies and measures would be taken for screening nearly four lakh tribal children in government-run schools for Hepatitis virus.
“This will be followed up with vaccination. Eventually, the plan is to cover the entire adivasi population which is close to one crore in Odisha,” he said.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sahu, head of the Gastroenterology department of IMS and SUM Hospital, run by the SOA University, said Hepatitis-B, at least 100 times deadlier than HIV, had been claiming 1.5 million lives worldwide annually despite the fact that an effective vaccine was available since 1982.
“It is ironic that Hepatitis B causes around 4,000 deaths everyday in spite of the fact that effective drugs are available,” he said.

The IMS and Sum Hospital, he said, was the only hospital in the country which was screening people for Hepatitis B virus and conducting immunisation free of cost on all working days round the year.
The hospital had conducted 73,000 screenings and immunised 56,000 people during the last two years, he said.

Prof. Gangadhar Sahu, Dean and Dr. Pushparaj Samantasinhar, Medical Superintendent of the IMS and Sum Hospital respectively and RM Dora, Secretary of state branch of Bharat Scouts and Guides, also spoke.

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