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‘Vaccination against hepatitis as important as against Covid’



Hyderabad, July 27 Hepatitis is the second most common infection with high mortality rate after tuberculosis in India, and it is estimated that around 5 crore Indians suffer from Hepatitis-B infections while more than 1.2 crore from Hepatitis-C.

On the eve of World Hepatitis Day, experts said vaccination against this virus is as important as against coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation considers hepatitis as a serious ailment, and WHO’s theme for this year is “Hepatitis can’t wait”, conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness, it is important to note that India can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis.

Dr Chandan Kumar, Consultant Hepatologist, Gleneagles Global Hospitals pointed out that Hepatitis-B infection is a major global health problem.

“This virus can cause chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. And another interesting fact is that of the total patients suffering from this condition, around 80 per cent are unaware of it, and hence it is termed as silent invaders in the initial stages. This unawareness further increases the chances of transmission between individuals and delay in treatment leads to poor outcomes later.”

According to Dr P. Anita Reddy, Consultant Gastroenterologist, SLG Hospitals, Hepatitis-B is the second most common cause of cirrhosis in India, after alcohol consumption, and is the leading cause of liver cancers in India.

“Being the most important organ of the body, the liver is involved in a multitude of functions and any abnormality or restriction in its function can severely affect the body and can even lead to death. The inflammation of liver is called hepatitis and is caused due to viral hepatitis, alcohol consumption, drug toxicity, autoimmune etc. Excess fat accumulated in the liver too can cause liver damage,” she said.

Highlighting the importance of vaccination against hepatitis, Dr Raghuram Kondala, Consultant Medical Gastroenterologist, Continental Hospitals, said for many years, a safe and effective vaccine that offers a 98-100 per cent protection against Hepatitis-B is available in India and around the world.

Preventing Hepatitis-B infection averts the development of complications including the development of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. “It is strongly recommended that all infants receive the Hepatitis-B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours – followed by two or three doses of Hepatitis-B vaccine at least four weeks apart to complete the series. Timely birth dose is an effective measure to reduce transmission from mother-to-child,” he said.

Healthcare sector in the country must highlight the importance of addressing the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HBV and call for increased domestic and international awareness programmes, to prevent Hepatitis-B mother-to-child transmission and expand access to hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services, with a view to achieving the 2030 elimination targets.

“Many at risk of hepatitis are either unaware of the problem or continue to live in denial, and no ailment can be contained or rooted out unless the community gets involved voluntarily. It is important that relevant authorities, healthcare machinery, civil society, along with those suffering from related ailments, speak more and more about risks associated with hepatitis virus, and stress on the need for vaccination against it. We cannot overcome this problem unless we talk more about it, and strive to prevent its spread,” said Dr B. Sivananda Reddy, Consultant, Medical Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital.


COVID-19 containment may derail if protocol is not followed, says Mansukh Mandaviya



New Delhi: With the festive season approaching fast, COVID-19 containment can derail if they are not celebrated following protocols set by the Government.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has warned people on October 0, 2021 and exhorted 19 states to escalate their inoculation pace so that India can achieve administering 100 crore vaccine doses in the next few days. India has so far administered over 94 crore Covid vaccine doses.

Reviewing the progress of vaccination with principal secretaries and mission directors of the National Health Mission from all major states, the health minister underlined that administering 100 crore doses of COVID vaccine is the immediate milestone.

Mandaviya noted that if festivals, synonymous with auspiciousness, joy and large gatherings, are not observed as per COVID-19 guidelines, containment of COVID-19 can get derailed. “The two-pronged solution is to follow COVID-19 protocols very strictly and to speed up vaccination,” the minister said.

The minister cited results of experiments that pegged the number of first dose recipients not developing severe COVID-19 to be 96 per cent and further pointed out that the number increases to nearly 98 per cent for people who have taken both doses of the vaccine. Officials of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal took part in the meeting.

Observing that over eight crore balance vaccine doses are physically available with states, Mandaviya enquired about specific hurdles, if any, faced by them in increasing their pace of vaccination and vaccine coverage among the target population.

Many states are nearing saturation of coverage in urban areas and are catering to the floating population in the city. Labour and time-intensive door-to-door vaccination is being undertaken in some geographically aloof pockets where first dose coverage is nearing saturation.

Uttar Pradesh state that comparatively limited supply of Covaxin and its shorter span between the doses as a rate inhibiting factor.

“In consultation with the states, the minister exhorted each state to increase their target so that the administration of the last six crore doses for reaching the mark of 100 crore is achieved in the next few days,” the health ministry stated.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan urged all the state health administrators to be strict with observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour during festivities to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. He underlined the need to adhere to a detailed standard operating procedure issued through a ministry’s letter on September 21. It included no mass-gatherings in containment zones and in districts with over 5 per cent case positivity.

Gatherings with advance permissions and limited people to be allowed in districts with a positivity rate of 5 per cent and below. Relaxations and restrictions to be imposed based on weekly case positivity.

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WHO set to vaccinate 40% population of every nation by yr end



Geneva, Oct 8: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an initiative to vaccinate 40 per cent of the population of every country against Covid-19 by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022, by prioritising vaccine delivery to low-income countries, particularly those in Africa.

“Today, the WHO is launching the Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022,” Xinhua news agency quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying at a press briefing here on Thursday.

“The strategy outlines the road we must all take together to achieve our targets of vaccinating 40 per cent of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70 percent by the middle of next year.”

According to Tedros, achieving these targets will require at least 11 billion vaccine doses, which is an allocation problem instead of a supply problem.

“With global vaccine production now at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month, there is enough supply to achieve our targets, provided they are distributed equitably,” he said.

According to the WHO’s records, more than 6.4 billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, and almost one-third of the world’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

However, low-income countries have received less than half of one percent of the world’s vaccines.

In Africa, less than 5 per cent of people are fully vaccinated.

Earlier this year, the WHO had set a target for all countries to vaccinate 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September, but 56 countries didn’t make it.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who joined the WHO chief at the initiatve’s launch, said: “Vaccine inequality is the best ally of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But through dose sharing, swaps, technology transfers and other priority actions, it is possible to reduce deaths and minimize suffering, prevent health systems from being overwhelmed, resume social and economic activities, and reduce the risk of dangerous new variants.”

The UN chief also renewed his appeal to the G20 nations for help, adding that “their meeting later this month will be an opportunity to deliver”.

“I urge all global stakeholders to step up, mobilize their resources and turn this strategy into a reality,” he said.

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Global Covid-19 caseload tops 236.7 mn



Washington, Oct 8: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 236.7 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.83 million and vaccinations soared to over 6.39 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Friday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and the total number number of vaccine doses administered stood at 236,730,066, 4,833,592 and 6,394,485,945, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 44,158,348 and 710,173, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 33,894,312 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (21,532,558), the UK (8,084,275), Russia (7,575,825), Turkey (7,357,306), France (7,142,387), Iran (5,674,083), Argentina (5,264,305), Spain (4,971,310), Colombia (4,967,524), Italy (4,692,274), Germany (4,295,876), Indonesia (4,224,487) and Mexico (3,699,621), the CSSE figures showed.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Brazil (599,810), India (449,856), Mexico (280,610), Russia (209,752), Peru (199,581), Indonesia (142,494), the UK (137,818), Italy (131,198), Colombia (126,517), Iran (122,012), France (117,845) and Argentina (115,416).

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