Imphal: As observed across the globe, Community Network for Empowerment (CONE) in collaboration with Directorate of Health Services, government of Manipur and BABINA Diagnostics kicked off the International Testing Week here with a screening camp organized at Yaipokpi Rehabilitation Centre, Kwakeithel on Monday.
The first edition of the International Testing Week is being organized under the aegis of Coalition PLUS in collaboration with its 100 partners in over 50 countries across the globe from November 23 to 29, 2020. As a partner of Coalition PLUS in India, CoNE is the sole organizer of the event in India and the event is being organized in Manipur.
Along with providing awareness on Hepatitis C and screening of 57 patients, the participants at the screening camp were also provided awareness on COVID-19 and a pledge was taken for Jan Andolan to fight COVID-19 by Dr RK Rosie Devi who is the State Nodal Officer of National Viral Hepatitis Control Program.
Prior to the screening camp, a press briefing was organized at the Keishamthong Hodam Leirak Machin, Sega Road office of CoNE.
Speaking to media persons, President of CoNE RK. Nalinikanta expressed gratitude to the directorate of Health Services and BABINA Diagnostics without whose support the campaign will not be successful.
While highlighting the objective of the campaign he said that the primary goal is to generate awareness on viral hepatitis issues so as to enable people to come forward for testing diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis and also to advocate the government improve the healthcare pathway for community members.
Informing the activities that would be taken up during the weeklong campaign, RK Nalinikanta said that as part of the International Testing Week, a total of five screening sites have been identified where people from the drug users’ community will be screened for Hepatitis C. The screening camps will be conducted at Yaipokpi Rehabilitation Centre, Kwakeithel; Trust Foundation Rehabilitation Centre, Mantripukhri; Peace Rehabilitation Centre, Khangabok; Goodwill Home Rehabilitation Centre, Utlou; and Healing Point Rehabilitation Centre, Kakching Khunyai from November 23 to 25, 2020.
A total of 200 people will be screened for hepatitis C and the antibody test will be provided by BABINA Diagnostics free of cost. All those patients who are antibody positive will be linked to NVHCP for further diagnosis and treatment.
Apart from the screening camp, CoNE will also be conducting poster campaign in the twin districts of Imphal, Naliniknata said while adding that a screenplay in the form of generating awareness on the basic information of Hepatitis C and on treatment availability within the government settings is being highlighted will be broadcasted in local TV channels from Monday.
We are encouraging people to come out for testing during the week as 9 out of every 10 people are not aware that they have the virus. Therefore, in order to know one’s status and take care of oneself and at the same time protect others from spreading the disease, testing is very much essential. Moreover, it is the only means to achieve the commitment of the government in eliminating Hepatitis by 2030, Nalinikanta informed.
Dr RK Rosie who was also present during the press briefing said that the NVHCP was launched in India on July 28, 2018 and the program was implemented in Manipur on the same day in 2019. But unfortunately at a time when the program was to be carried out in full swing, the state has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the confirmatory test which was provided in both the MTCs at RIMS and JNIMS was halted and engaged in testing of COVID-19. Nevertheless, the government entered into an agreement with BABINA Diagnostics by signing a MoU and the viral load test (confirmatory test) is being done at BABINA Diagnostics.
Now, there is no issue. Testing, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C is carried out smoothly under the national program at RIMS, JNIMS, district hospitals and sub-districts hospitals of the state, Dr Rosie said and appealed to the general masses to come out and get tested of hepatitis C and get treated if found positive so that the target of eliminating hepatitis by 2030 is achieved. Dr Rosie further informed that as of October, a total of 25, 000 people have been tested out of which 858 were found to be antibody positive. Of the total found antibody reactive, 759 were conducted RNA test and a total of 656 people were found to be RNA positive. Out of the total people found positive 627 have initiated treatment and 465 have completed treatment.
In addition, with the collaboration with NVHCP over 300 samples for HCV
RNA has been conducted, he said while adding that BABINA Diagnostics will help in all possible ways any such programmes and schemes taken up.
He also appealed to the people to come out and get tested and initiate treatment if found positive as there is free testing and treatment under NVHCP.