Hepatitis - Prevention is better than cure!

Dr.Shanmugam, rightly and proudly called, the founder of Chennai Liver Foundation’ institution was, in fact, motivated by his own circumstances both in personal and professional life. He lost his brother due to liver failure and he witnessed many a person losing their lives due to a liver problem. He himself was a victim but he got cured. He took an oath to stop the deaths caused by liver failure and this was primarily instrumental for the creation of this Chennai Liver Foundation.

At global level, nearly 32.5 crores of people are affected by liver disease and 13.4 lakhs of people die virtually. In India alone, while 40 lakhs people are affected, more than 70,000 people die of liver failure. The main reason for this occurrence is ‘hepatitis’ virus which is deadly in nature. In our country, the additional reason is addiction to alcohol. Hepatitis is of five types such as A, B,C, D and E of which B and C types are most dangerous. World Hepatitis Day is followed on  28th July every year on the birth date of  Prof.Baruch Samuel Blumberg, for he only invented this hepatitis B type.  On this day, several awareness campaigns are conducted since only 20% of the affected patients only seek medical help despite the fact that lakhs of people are actually affected by this disease.

The Chennai Liver Foundation has been conducting various awareness campaigns and free dispensary programmes in a continuous manner. Recently, they

conducted a mega awareness campaign at Padi (Chennai) and Dr.Shanmugam explains the details of the activities as under:-

Dr.Shanmugam candidly says that he himself was affected by this liver disease which he came to know after nearly 75% of the impact on his health. While being in service at Stanley Hospitals, he had seen many persons dying due to this problem. This indeed motivated him to go to England and get trained to treat these patients. In fact, he was the first doctor in India to have performed liver transplant operation in 1996 at Stanley Hospitals.

Chennai Liver Foundation was established with the only objective of creating a sense of awareness among the poor people. Though this foundation has been doing a great service to the poor people from 1998, the coverage is only minimal. However, since 2012, the foundation with the help of many doctors including his son has widened the base and been rendering greater service to the community than in the past. Dr.Shanmugam is of the opinion that if the symptoms are detected at the early stage itself, the patient can be cured and saved and hence the camp is focussing on entire Tamilnadu accordingly.

Dr.Shanmugam explains that the normal cost of this test would be around Rs.10,000/- which they do it free of cost for the benefit of the patients. Additionally, the Government hospitals have been giving this vaccine to the newly born babies for the past few years and the Foundation is offering this service to the babies born before that.

Dr.Shanmugam emphatically adds that the hepatitis infection is worse than HIV virus and this hepatitis has been spreading globally in a greater measure. The main

aim of this foundation is to actively spread the awareness among the common people which is still lacking.

The Foundation conducted a survey in Tamil Nadu wherein they have observed that more number of people have been affected by hepatitis B and C. It is also noticed and confirmed that hepatitis A and E types would spread through impure water and food and they would get cured almost automatically without any great impact; of course, for some, it would affect their liver. At the same time, hepatitis B and C viruses are more deadly than others. The sources of infection are from mother to the babies; in addition to that, it gets spread through blood, use of things already handled by the hepatitis-affected persons and above all, unsafe and improper sex relations. The practical impact is that once this hepatitis enters a body, it will not leave at all.  However, it is the chief objective of World Health Organization that this hepatitis virus should be eradicated by 2030

It is further observed that this virus is hard to find. The Foundation’s main effort is in the direction of creating awareness by conducting campaigns and administering remedial measures. The Foundation strongly believes that since the presence of this virus will be known only after complete damage of the liver, it is better that persons above 18 years should necessarily be tested for this virus so that necessary protective and curative measures can be taken immediately. The Managing Director,Dr.Vivekanandan concludes that liver is so important that necessary preventive steps must be taken at the appropriate stage itself before total damage. 

(This article written by R Senthil kumar & P Madhalai Aron in Tamil has been transcreated in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)

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