September 15, 2013

Signature Campaign on Hep-C begins

Our Correspondent Kohima | September 14

‘Be informed about the disease, go for counseling, avail treatment and monitor your steps’

“Hepatitis-C is curable. People are dying of a curable disease,” lamented Abou Mere, President Indian Drugs Users Forum (IDUF), while declaring open the sixty days Signature Campaign today on Hepatitis-C organized by the Kohima Users’ Network (KUN) in collaboration with Hepatitis Coalition of Nagaland (HepCoN) at the KUN office at Red Cross Complex here. The signature campaign also aims to provide hard facts about Hep-C to the masses, especially to People who Use Drugs (PUDs) through group sessions and one-to-one interactions.

“There is very less or no awareness of Hep-C in Naga society. Through the society’s support, the sixty days signature campaign will surely bring changes in our society,” said Kevinguto Khamo, President, KUN. The inauguration program was chaired by Ketho Angami while the methodology of the campaign was highlighted by Ato, Joint Secretary KUN.

Dr. Dietho Koza, Medical Officer, Kripa Foundation, while speaking on ‘What is Viral Hepatitis,’ emphasized on the six types of Hepatitis virus, i.e., A, B, C, D, E and G. These viruses get transmitted fecally, through lack of hygiene, transfusion of blood, contamination of food, sharing of needles and syringes and even raw salads. Alcoholics have higher chances of developing the Hepatitis-C. “The silver lining is that the Hep-C virus clears itself in 40 percent of cases. In the long run, the disease can lead to liver cancer. So get information about the disease, go for counseling, avail treatment and monitor your steps,” said Dr. Dietho. He further hoped that the campaign will pave way in the future for the availability of free treatment for Hep-C.

A short testimony was also given by Nikhil, member of KUN, who shared about his lack of awareness during the initial stage of being infected with Hep-C.
“Drug users have often being looked down on and treated as useless by the society. But we have become productive today,” said Abou Mere who also emphasized on the need to further advocate on Hep-C. Citing the Constitution on the Right to Health, Mere also said that the government has not been responsible because it has patented drugs which further leaves the poor people untreated due to the skyrocketing prices of medicines.

The campaign focuses to educate PUDs by reaching out to them at the various Injecting Drug Users (IDU) intervention projects of Nagaland SACS. The campaign has been divided into 3 teams to reach out to eight sites in Kohima. A team will focus on the main town (Razhü Point), P R Hill, Tinpati and High School areas, another on the southern part that is Jakhama and Viswema areas and the other on the extreme north that is Tseminyu and Chunlikha block.

Recent data from the Department of Microbiology Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) shows that the prevalence rate of Hep-C stands at 1.8 percent from 2006-2012 which is an alarming indication and a concern to the whole society.

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