Hepatitis is a very serious challenge that can be overcome only with collective effort, said Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday.
His remarks came at 'Empathy Conclave 2020', orgzed by the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (IBLS) and Airports Authority of India, in Parliament House on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day.
Birla also underlined the responsibility of public representatives to spread awareness about liver disease amongst all the people.
"Hepatitis is a very serious challenge that can be overcome only with collective effort and resolve, and for this, role of public representatives especially Members of Parliament becomes very crucial," he said.
Observing that the care and safety of liver during difficult times of COVID-19 are important, he emphasized that it is lawmakers' duty to sensitize and make the fight against the pandemic a mass movement.
The Lok Sabha Speaker also mentioned that the year 2030 has been set for the eradication of this Hepatitis and hoped that India would be able to meet this important objective.
He also mentioned that in these difficult times of COVID-19, the Government has taken comprehensive steps to reduce the impact of the pandemic and the results have been encouraging.
He hoped that a vaccine for this disease would be discovered soon.
Lok Sabha Speaker and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan physically attended the programme from the Speaker's Chamber in the Parliament House.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan thanked Shri Birla for providing such a platform for the eradication of Hepatitis and for or giving his wholehearted support to this cause.
He added that the government has announced a Rs 15,000-crore health package to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
He also mentioned that the Finance Commission has agreed to include a special chapter related to health financing in its report.
"The theme of this year's conclave is "Keep your Liver Safe in COVID times", which is very apt and important especially in these testing times," the minister said.
Highlighting the issue of creating mass awareness and community mobilisation, Dr Harsh Vardhan said: "Hepatitis has become a global health problem. Viral Hepatitis is a very common and serious disease in India but is virtually unknown to health care providers and the general public. Individuals with viral B & C hepatitis are at increased risk for liver cancer and chronic liver disease, yet an estimated 80 per cent of persons with chronic viral hepatitis do not know that they are infected."
He said that the mantra to educating people is "Talk Test & Treat" and I appeal to all participants especially from industries, NGOs and other fraternity to support ILBS in this campaign.
"I request all my colleagues present here to act as a Champion/Ambassador in spreading awareness about the silent epidemics of Hepatitis B & C and help remove the stigma attached to these diseases," he said.
On the contribution of ILBS, the minister said, "ILBS is also a WHO collaborative centre. It helped in the development of the National Viral Hepatitis Program which was launched on July 28, 2018. It is the largest program for Hepatitis B and C diagnosis and treatment in the world. We have made seminal progress in reaching out to the people and now every state has several model treatment units."
Dr Harsh Vardhan also congratulated Dr S K Sarin and Team ILBS for their tireless efforts towards the fight against ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by testing SARS-Cov-2 samples for the last four months.
"It's indeed been a matter of pride that the country's first Plasma Bank was made functional at ILBS. Plasma warriors have been selfless contributors helping in improving recovery rate in India," he said.
Harsh Vardhan said that under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pre-emptive and proactive measures taken have helped us control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
"While the mortality due to COVID-19 is approximately 2 to 3 % and most cases are largely asymptomatic, it is important to create awareness about the higher risk of both morbidity and mortality faced by people with co-morbidities like diabetes, obesity and fatty liver, chronic liver diseases. The Ayushman Bharat - Health and Wellness Centres are tirelessly working for the screening of such conditions," he said.
( With inputs from ANI )