New Delhi: Considering the disease burden of viral hepatitis, government will now offer free drugs and diagnosis for Hepatitis B and C. The arrangement has been made under the National Viral Hepatitis Control Program launched on Saturday. “This initiative will provide laboratory testing and management of viral hepatitis with a decentralized approach," union health minister J.P. Nadda said, marking World Hepatitis Day on Saturday. “The program is designed at ground level and all stakeholders are taken into the consideration. We are now making sure that the last person gets the benefit out of it," he added.

The union health ministry has launched the “National Viral Hepatitis Control Program", with the goal of ending viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The aim of the initiative is to reduce morbidity and mortality due to viral hepatitis.

The key strategies include preventive and promotive interventions with focus on awareness generation; safe injection practices and sociocultural practices; sanitation and hygiene; safe drinking water supply; infection control and immunization; coordination and collaboration with different ministries and departments; increasing access to testing and management of viral hepatitis; promoting diagnosis and providing treatment support for patients of Hepatitis B &C through standardized testing and management protocols with focus on treatment of Hepatitis B and C; building capacities at national, state, district levels and sub-district level up to Primary Health Centres (PHC) and health and wellness centres such that the program can be scaled up till the lowest level of the healthcare facility in a phased manner.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), in South-East Asia, 100 million people are currently estimated to be living with Hepatitis B, and 30 million with Hepatitis C.

In India, viral hepatitis is considered a major public health problem.