Chandigarh, July 29: Punjab has become the first state in the country to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a global diagnostic firm, FIND, to help it diagnose and then properly treat hepatitis C. Health minister Brahm Mohindra was present when the agreement was signed at a function to mark the World Hepatitis Day on Friday.
Hepatitis is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver, further leading to serious scarring (cirrhosis), which can prove fatal in the long run.
Under the agreement with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the agency will support the Punjab health department by providing Rapid Test kits for screening of high-risk patients for diseases like HIV, IVDU (Intravenous Drug Users) patients and patients of IVDU coming to Oral Substitution Therapy (OST) centres for hepatitis C.
The minister said FIND, an organisation that works with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the development of the urgently needed diagnostic tests will provide four GeneXpert machines at Sangrur, Bathinda, Tarn Taran and Hoshiarpur for free testing of TB, again among high-risk patients. “FIND will fund the staff for running these machines,” Mohindra said
Delivering the key-note address at the state level function organised at DHS office, Punjab, to mark the World Hepatitis Day, Mohindra added, “With support from the WHO, we are releasing the action plan for injection safety programme, Punjab is also the first state in the country where an injection-safety programme is being implemented in collaboration with the WHO.”
The minister extended his gratitude towards the WHO team for their valuable technical inputs. He said that Health Department Punjab will be introducing RUPs (Reuse Prevention Syringes) in the state so that blood-borne infections cannot be spread from one patient to another.
“The Punjab model of management of Hepatitis C is unique and the WHO can advocate about our efforts so that a policy or a programme at the national level can be made to address this disease,” the minister added.
News Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com