Partner News

PGI Chandigarh-INASL: Sharp rise in Hepatitis C cases in Punjab, 7500 cases put under treatment in two months

India Literacy Project: Ambience Public School, in partnership with ILP, mentors government schoolteachers from Hyderabad, Vizag, using ECHO

Medanta starts their Community Neurology Clinic:

The Department of Neurosciences at Medanta, the Medicity, Gurgaon have started their Community Neurology TeleECHO clinic. Led by Dr A.N Jha and Dr. Monica Thomas, the Community Neurology clinic is conducted every Thursday from 4-5 pm.


NIMHANS-BIHAR- ECHO TeleECHO Addiction clinic connects 9 Districts in Bihar, to train doctors and counselors on addiction. It consists of two weeks of on-site training at NIMHANS followed by six months of fortnightly NIMHANS ECHO clinics.
Dr. Prabhat Chand, Dr. Arun Kandaswamy and their team are leading the initiative under the guidance of Prof. Pratima Murthy and Prof. Vivek Benegal.
The clinic is run on every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.
Another 23 districts are being included in the program.




‘INASL and PGI Chandigarh partner with the Punjab Government to launch a Hepatitis TeleECHO clinic’.

Punjab to give Hepatitis C medicines free Chief Minister Punjab S Prakash Singh Badal launched a new scheme on June 18, 2016 called the “Mukh Mantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund”. Under this scheme all the cases confirmed to be suffering from Hepatitis C will be given free treatment. Punjab has become the first State in the country to provide free treatment to cases of Hepatitis C. The Govt. of Punjab has created a special fund with an initial contribution of Rs 20 crore called the Mukh Mantri Punjab Hepatitis C Relief Fund for this purpose.
Several studies and reports had pointed out that there were large number of cases of Hepatitis C in the State. With a prevalence rate that could be high as 3%, there might be upto 10 lakh cases of suspected hepatitis C, of whom upto 6 lakh would require treatment. Until recently, the treatment consisted of injectable peg-interferon which was very expensive and thus not affordable for many. Department of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab under the technical guidance of Department of Hepatology, PGIMER, Chandigarh had done rate contract for the treatment of Hepatitis C and was making these available through Jan Aushadhi stores for the last two years.
In a major global breakthrough, new drugs were discovered which could be taken orally rather than having to be injected, and with much higher cure rates of 90-95% as aginst about 50% with the earlier treatment. These new drugs became available in the USA in 2014 and in India only in March 2015. With these new drugs, most of the patients of Hepatitis C can be completely cured within 12 weeks, and only a small proportion whose livers have been badly affected already, need longer treatment. On being apprised of these developments, the Chief Minister directed the Health Department Punjab to prepare a scheme to provide these drugs to the affected persons in the state, free of cost.
The Health Department Punjab through the PHSC did a rate contract under which the same drugs that are available at rates as high as $84,000 in the US are being procured at less than 1% of that rate by the state government, and supplied to the patients of the state absolutely free. A detailed most cost-effective treatment protocol has been developed by Dr R K Dhiman, Professor Heptology PGI and his colleagues. Several meetings were held under the chairmanship of Dr K K Talwar, Advisor Health and Medical education Govt of Punjab to finalise the same. ‘Capacity buileding Hepatitis C Workshops’ were conducted with medical specialists in the Govt Medical Colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot apart from the 22 District Hospitals of the State. These workshops are followed by a special program called as “Pb-PGI-INASL-ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome) Clinics” every fortnight with PGI, Chandigarh through videoconferencing, which is primarily a case-based learning of complicated cases. Apart from the medical specialists, pharmacists and other staff members have also been trained by the experts of the Department of Hepatology, PGIMER, Chandigarh.
The scheme is now available to all the residents of Punjab. Under this scheme, the patients of Hepatitis C will be registered at the 25 treating hospitals and medicines for the course of treatment will be issued after examination and testing by the medical specialists. The treatment will be available in 3 Govt Medical Colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot apart from the 22 District Hospitals of the State. The patient has to pay only for the viral load and the genotype of the Hepatitis C Virus for which the Govt of Punjab has also done rate contract with Lal Path Laboratories, where the tests of the beneficiaries of this scheme will be done at a very subsidized rate. The medicines will be given free of cost.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that primarily affects the liver. In its early stages it often has no symptoms, but over ensuing 20-30 years, it often leads to liver cirrhosis and its comlications including liver failure requiring liver transplantation, variceal bleeding, severe infections, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and death. Successful treatment of hepatitis C was associated with 62-84% reduction in all-cause and liver-related deaths, 68-79% reduction in risk of HCC and 90% reduction in risk of liver transplant. Hence treating hepatitis at the appropriate time is very cost effective and in addition it saves many lives. It is expected that with the launch of this scheme, the State will be able to eliminate hepatitis C within 10-15 years and will save thousands of lives in Punjab.
The state will also try to raise awareness that HCV is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with percutaneous route (injections, tattooing, hair cuts from unsterlized rajors, etc, poorly sterilized medical equipment, needlestick injuries in healthcare, and transfusions. With effective blood screening the risk from a transfusion nowadays is almost negligible. It may also be spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth. It is not spread by superficial contact. Unsafe injection practices, especially injections given by untrained people, dental treatment, tattoing, etc are major causes of concern in Punjab.