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ILBS’ EMPATHY campaign to create awareness on hepatitis

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A CSR initiative of Airport Authority of India (AAI), the conclave will bring together policy makers, health activists and social influencers on the eve of World Hepatitis Day

Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) will launch EMPATHY (Empowering People Against Hepatitis) campaign, which is a CSR initiative of Airport Authority of India (AAI), on World Hepatitis Day to address the issue. EMPATHY Conclave 2019 to be held on July 27 is part of a mega awareness drive on hepatitis initiated by ILBS and will bring together leading healthcare experts, law makers, government representatives, social influencers and prominent personalities from different strata of society to discuss effective ways of addressing the chronic disease.

With 1.5 lakh deaths annually and almost 60 million Indians affected, viral hepatitis continues to be a serious public health concern. However, stigmatisation and discrimination against patients hampers the country’s fight against the disease. The need to enact effective policies to fight prejudice and provide psycho social support to patients was at the centre of discussion as experts came together for a conference organised by the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).

Gastroenterologist and hepatologist, Dr SK Sarin, Director, ILBS, stressed the need to protect hepatitis-affected people from prejudice and biases while addressing a round table conference on ‘Hepatitis: Detection, Acceptance and Elimination’. He highlighted the need for fighting myths and misconceptions associated with the disease and underlined that Hepatitis B and C were viral infections that can be suppressed with proper treatment.

“Several instances of discrimination and rejection against people with Hepatitis have come to light over the past few years including in the field of medicine. Not only have people been denied jobs because of being diagnosed with hepatitis, many are also denied work visas to some countries if they are victims of Hepatitis B. This is why we feel that government should initiate strong policy measures to address discrimination and stigmatisation of patients. Enacting a law to ensure Right to Live without discrimination must also be considered,” said Dr Sarin while addressing the conference along with Dr Anil Agarwal, Head-Administration, ILBS, Lt Col RS Singh, Deputy Head-Human Resources, ILBS, Dr Neeraj Raizada, Asst Professor-Epidemiology and Project Incharge-Empathy Campaign.

“Many patients with chronic hepatitis experience shame, decreased self-esteem, fear, depression, and isolation. There is a sense of guilt where they hide the disease or blame themselves for being careless about prevention. Hepatitis B and C are not communicable or sexually-transmitted disease. They can only happen through blood transfusion,” explained Dr Sarin, underlining that a series of myths and misconceptions about the disease contribute to the stigmatisation of patients.

The campaign aims to bring together leading healthcare experts, law makers, government representatives, social influencers and prominent personalities from different strata of society to discuss effective ways of addressing the chronic disease.

The campaign will focus on spreading awareness about HBV & HCV and address the stigma associated with the disease by encouraging dialogue among policy makers, programme managers, care providers, civil society and the patients.

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