Hepatitis epidemic in Shopain ‘contained’ but patients say denied free medicines

Hepatitis epidemic in Shopain ‘contained’ but patients say denied free medicines

SHOPIAN: The Hepatitis outbreak that came to fore in Vehil belt of Shopian last year has largely been brought under control, with few fresh cases reported, but patients rue that they are not being provided free medicines.
Early last year, 599 cases of Hepatitis B and C were reported from different parts of Shopian with Vehil belt being the worst affected.
Doctors posted in Shopian told Kashmir Reader that in the last five months only 20 new cases were reported by the Health department in the district.
They said that gradual decline in cases started from August 2018.
Block Medical Officer Shopian Dr Muhammad Yousuf Naikoo, who was deputed to tackle the epidemic said that after August, 20 new cases were reported from all over the district and not from Vehil belt.
In the affected areas, Dr Naikoo and Chief Medical Officer Dr Abdul Rasheed have become household names due to their work on tackling the epidemic.
“Out of 599 cases, 116 were of hepatitis C and 483 were of Hepatitis B. We conducted screening of 13000 souls of which these cases were found,” Dr Naikoo told Kashmir Reader.
Asked why screening was not done on the 52000 people, as proposed initially, Naikoo said that the diagnostic material was not provided for continued screening and after huge decline in cases from August the screening was stopped.
Local are all praise for the two officials but have grievances with the government.
“Both of them provide us all possible assistance which was in their domain even more than that but the government ignored us by not providing free medicines. Many of us are living below poverty level but government didn’t provide any assistance to us,” a patient told Kashmir Reader. “Everyone in government knows how costly the medicines for hepatitis are and despite that we were ignored and abandoned.”
Dr Naikoo said that some of the patients who were too poor were provided free medicines by government through Chief Medical Officer Anantnag. However, no medicine was approved to chief medical officer Shopian.
“All the laboratories, dental clinics and medical shops in the suspected areas are under surveillance as they were main reason for spread this disease and many of these clinics were sealed by the department,” Naikoo said adding chief medical officer Shopian himself is monitoring the cases and developments in these cases.
“The patients are under treatment through SKIMS and SMHS Srinagar. We are conducting the follow up of these patients as well and conducted research on reasons by conducting tests of whole families, “he added.