By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jul 5: Even if the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NVHCP) which was launched at the National level in July last year, cannot make any tangible difference in the State with the programme yet to be rolled out, the ProjectHEAD - Start Hepatitis C Treatment, has been acting as a saviour to hundreds of people who are in need for Hepatitis treatment at present.
Implemented jointly by YRGCARE and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnosis (FIND), the ProjectHEAD - Start Hepatitis C Treatment, is being rolled out in Imphal East, Imphal West, adjoining areas and Churachandpur.
A total of 882 people, including 201 in Chura-chandpur, are undergoing treatment under the project since July 4.
This is in addition to 241 people who underwent/completed three months treatment (medication phase). Among those 241 people, 170 are from Imphal East, Imphal West and adjoining areas while 71 are from Churachandpur.
Notably, the target for the project, which began from January this year after being launched on December 31 last year, is 3000 people, including 500 in Churachandpur.
State Coordinator YRGCARE, Kshetrimayum Basanta Kumar informed that the total screening done under ProjectHEAD – Start Hepatitis C Treatment since July 4 is 3157 people in Imphal East, Imphal West and their adjoining areas and 778 people in Chura-chandpur.
Further stating that 1619 people were found positive for Hepatitis C in the screening, he conveyed that 1273 among the Hepatitis C positive people, were found eligible to access the Hepatitis C treatment.
He also said that appropriate treatment/medication for pre-exposure cases have been provided to 882 clients (both from Imphal areas and Churachandpur).
Asserting that the pre-screening process for the said project will be closed by 4 pm of September 30 this year, he said that people who have been screened by the last date and are technically deemed fit for accessing the free HCV treatment, will be enrolled under the project to avail the benefits of the free HCV programme.
Highlighting the main challenges that are being faced in rolling out the ProjectHEAD - Hepatitis C Treatment, Ksh Basanta Kumar maintained that many clients, particularly the IDUs, often indulged in risky behaviours which can affect their treatment process.
“It takes a lot of sweat and toil to deal with such clients and to counsel them just to make them stay away from risky behaviours. After all, HCV treatment requires going through many time consuming technical works and processes like viral load testing and managing all these is not an easy thing”, he said.
When asked about the modus operandi of implementing the project, Basanta Kumar explained that YRGCARE and FIND jointly implemented the programme under the funding of Unitaid as part of the latter's global health initiative to end hepatitis C epidemics around the world.
He added that RIMS, JNIMS and MACS are also the implementing agencies of ProjectHEAD – Start Hepatitis C Treatment.
Mention may be made that different independent research data and surveillance reports have estimated that prevalence of Hepatitis C in the State is high and the treatment gap for the deadly disease is also huge.
NVHCP was launched on July 28 last year at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi by the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare. However, the said pan India programme, which is in line with the target of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aiming to ending viral hepatitis by 2030, is in a lacklustre stage in the State.