No drugs, 200 new cases found in last 40 days
SHOPIAN: Hepatitis patients in southern Kashmir’s Shopian district have been left without drugs crucial for their treatment as the department of Health Services has failed to provide fresh stock to the hepatitis-hit district.
With a surge here in hepatitis cases, which broke out in Vehil area in end 2017, 200 fresh cases were found by the Health department in the past 40 days, taking their total number to 600.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Shopian, Dr Abdul Rasheed told Kashmir Reader that the department has conducted screening of 34 villages till date, covering a population of 12,383 people. “Total patients who were found positive are 599, among whom 118 are suffering from Hepatitis B and 481 are suffering from hepatitis C,” he said, adding that the department has initiated the process of sampling of 52,000 people in Vehil and other areas of the district. Vehil is hardest hit with the disease.
The CMO added that the department is currently running out of drugs meant for the treatment of hepatitis-related diseases. “With the current availability of drugs, we are able to provide free medical assistance to only 59 people,” he said.
Health department experts suggested that the medicines meant to counter hepatitis are costly and need quick responses from the government to guard those afflicted against going into a more chronic phase. “It costs Rs 40,000 for a four-month course for a patient suffering from hepatitis C, while those suffering from the B kind of hepatitis need lifelong medication, which would cost them Rs 2,000 per month,” Dr Rasheed said.
A patient suffering from hepatitis C told Kashmir Reader that the government is playing with their lives by denying the drugs they are in need of. “It costs us more than fifty thousands to avail of the medicines, and I am not able to earn even three thousand for a month. From where will I bring this money for medicines?” he lamented.
Similarly, another patient, who is suffering from hepatitis B, said that those with the disease have to continue these medicines for life.” It costs us Rs 2,000 for medicine per month and it is hitting us badly. I want to appeal to the Governor to provide us free medicines so that our families wouldn’t suffer,” he said.
Villages where cases of hepatitis have been found include Vehil, Mengipora, Chowdargund, Shamsipora, Avind, Ramnagri, Reshnagri, Chatwatan, Hallapora, Kachdora, Nowgam, Dangarpora, Hangipora, Rawalpora, Kachdora, Bebinpora, Mirzapora, Bongam Shopian, Nadigam, Hirpora,Saidpora, Saidpora Payeen, Shamsipora, Amshipora, Ratnipora, Daramdura, Gadapora, Pehlipora Keller, Ringward, Nadpora and Balpora.
A top health officer based in Srinagar told Kashmir Reader that the department is providing precurement to the patients sufferings from hepatitis. “We have sufficient funds to tackle this problem, and it will take some days to provide precurement to the patients,” he said.
Officials from the Health department from Shopian said that they have already sealed several barbers’ shops and dental clinics in the district and that an inspection team visited the rest of the area’s medical and barber facilities. “We have involved teachers, students and clerics of mosques to provide health education among the people. Besides that we also conducted seminars and public meetings to provide health education to the people,” a field official told Kashmir Reader.