Hepatitis emerges as a major killer disease in Tripura

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Agartala, May 27 (UNI) The Tripura government has initiated a plan to vaccinate the rural people against Hepatitis B which has been fast emerging as a major killer disease in the state among tribals.

Talking to mediapersons here today, state Health Minister Tapan Chakraborty said about 12 per cent of the state's total Muslim population and eight per cent of total tribal population had been suffering from Hepatitis B.

Referring to experts' observations, Mr Chakraborty said because of consumption of contaminated drinking water, food habits and drug abuse, the Hepatitis virus was spreading in the state, which had prompted the state government to mobilise the Hepatitis Foundation of Tripura, an NGO engaged in immunisation programme at low cost.

He said 52 per cent of those infected with Hepatitis B in Tripura belonged to the age group of 21 to 40 years.

''The sample survey conducted among the people as well as from blood stored in blood banks has become a matter of concern,'' Mr Chakraborty said.

The Minister, however, asserted that the situation could be kept under control through proper policies and implementation and the Centre was informed about the latest position while seeking a grant of Rs 70 crore to fight Hepatitis B.

He added that the state and Union governments must join hands and initiate measures to fight the killer disease.

Citing an instance, he said in 1990, as high as 80 per cent of Taiwan's population was found to have Hepatitis, but through a scientific programme of action, the figure was brought down to 20 per cent within a few years.

Mr Chakraborty regretted the fact that despite repeated appeals, the Centre was yet to incorporate Hepatitis in the National Health Programme for special preventive measures even though the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) recently conducted a survey in tribal-dominated Dhalai district in Tripura and found 15 per cent of its population afflicted with Hepatitis B.

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