People living with hepatitis C, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition – India (ITPC-India), and treatment activists at a press conference held recently in Delhi, questioned the silence maintained by the Indian Health Ministry on its response to the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) which is emerging as a growing public health threat, and in the absence of effective prevention programmes, millions are at risk of this deadly infection.
According to the World Health Organization, hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of acute hepatitis and chronic liver disease. Globally, 3 to 4 million persons are newly infected each year. The Viral Hepatitis resolution adopted by the member states of the World Health Organisation on 23 January 2010 at the Sixty-third World Health Assembly, recognises Hepatitis C as a public health issue. The burden of the disease in India is expected to continue rising in the absence of prevention and harm reduction measures with vulnerable communities. According to the health organisations, there are two main obstacles to an effective HCV response in the country. First is the absence of prevention efforts; second is the lack of political will to treat HCV-among policymakers in the Health Ministry.