World Hepatitis Day: Hepatitis B vaccination covers 79% children below two years of age in Pune


Seventy nine per cent children below the age of two in the city have been given the hepatitis B vaccination, according to the latest national family health survey 4 (NFHS) data. According to the NFHS data, Pune records better vaccination coverage than Maharashtra, where 60.8 per cent children below two years of age have been vaccinated.

Doctors from the city said there is a growing need to spread awareness regarding viral hepatitis on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, which was celebrated recently on July 28.

Speaking about hepatitis B, Dr Mahesh Lakhe, consultant internal medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune, said, “Hepatitis B is a viral infection and children, even the new-borns, are vulnerable to mother-to-child transmission of the disease. This is why vaccinating children is an important step in stemming the spread of the disease. A low coverage of hepatitis B vaccination makes children vulnerable to liver-related diseases.”

Dr Lakhe added, “Most of the children affected by hepatitis B do not show any symptom. However, in children aged five years or more, symptoms may show three to four months after the virus enters the body. The most common symptoms of hepatitis B infection are loss of appetite, light fever, fatigue, pain in joints among other things.”

According to an estimate of the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 40 million people in India suffer from hepatitis B. It is more common than human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Hepatitis B affects three to four per cent of the population and claims about one to two per cent of patients every year.

Dr Pavan Hanchanale, gastroenterologist and hepatologist,Jupiter Hospital, said, “Hepatitis B and C spread via contact with contaminated blood and blood products, including sharing of needles and blades. Many a times, screening for the types of hepatitis is essential as patients remain symptom-free until they develop silent liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and in a few cases, acute liver failure. Treatment is available for both viruses. Moreover, hepatitis C can be cured these days, thanks to new safe medicines, whereas hepatitis B can be kept under control with medicines and routine follow-up. Government has initiated efforts through mandatory childhood vaccination to prevent hepatitis B. There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C till now.”

He added that eating a balanced diet, total avoidance of alcohol, and complimentary alternative medicine is must during a bout with hepatitis.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 16:43 IST


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