CHANDIGARH: With an aim to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2030 from the State, Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu on Wednesday announced to extend the treatment of Hepatitis to 41 SDHs and 6ESI hospitals from Aug 2021. The total treatment centres will be 114 in 23 districts so that patients could get services for Hepatitis C near to their homes.

Disclosing this on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, Mr. Sidhu said that even during pandemic the Punjab Government has put appx 18, 000 patients on treatment of HCV from Jan 2020 to July 2021. However, the programme also expanded its services for inmates in 9 central jails so that all these high-risk cases don’t have to go pillar to post for treatment of Hepatitis C.

Minister divulged that Punjab Government has also chalked out a plan to conduct the free of cost screening of all pregnant women for Hepatitis B and C. He said that Rapid Test Kits for the same are being procured by the Punjab Government and all positive pregnant females will be connected to the free of cost treatment at the nearest treatment site for speedy recovery which will further provide health security to their newborn children as well.

Mr. Sidhu highlighted that during ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 in the State, the services for testing and treatment were not stopped and Department of Health increased the treatment centres from 25 to 67 in order to ensure the treatment of Hepatitis C is available to the patients. The treatment of Hepatitis C was initiated at 17 ART centres for HIV + cases and 14 OST centres for management of HCV among IVDU (Intravenous Drug Users). He said that in order to provide quality health care services, Punjab Government also launched free viral load test for Hepatitis B on 22nd June 2021.

In 5 years the State has screened 2 lakh persons for Hepatitis C across the State and out of these appx 97, 000 patients have been put on free treatment of Hepatitis C so far he said adding that the cure rate of the treated cases is appx 93% in the State.

Health Minister also launched posters for prevention of Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B and a booklet on 5-year journey of the Punjab in management of Hepatitis C on the occasion.

It was further announced that the patients of Punjab being referred to PGIMER Chandigarh for management of complicated cases of Hepatitis B and C from the State and they will be provided free treatment of Hepatitis B and C. The drugs for management of Hepatitis B and C in PGI will be provided by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Punjab.

The event of World Hepatitis Day was also attended by PSHFW Mr Alok Shekhar, Prof and Head Hepatology PGIMER Chandigarh Dr Virendra Singh, Director Health & Family Welfare and Dr Gurinder Bir Singh, State Programme Officer NVHCP Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover

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