Some 5.5 per cent of people in the country are carriers of Hepatitis B virus, while 0.6 per cent carry Hepatitis C virus in their bodies. At least 10 million people are currently affected by these two viruses, but what's alarming is that nine out of 10 patients don't even know that they have been infected with the deadly viruses.
Speakers provided this information at an event jointly organised by National Liver Foundation and Health Reporters' Forum at a city hotel, reports UNB.
Prof Dr Mohammad Ali, Secretary General of National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh, said in his welcome speech that these two viruses are called silent killers as in most cases, the affected person doesn't show any noticeable symptoms.
"Hepatitis B and C viruses are the prime reasons behind causing liver cancer and liver cirrhosis, the latter being one of the top ten reasons for peoples' death. Liver cancer itself is the third prime reason for cancer-related death. Every year, around 1.8 million people die of these two diseases," said Ali.
Ali added that 60 to 65 per cent of people of Bangladesh live in villages, who don't have sufficient knowledge about Hepatitis.
"We need to increase the awareness of the village people about the Hepatitis virus. We've found that 18 per cent of the Rohingya refugees have Hepatitis. We need to ramp up our work to save them from the clutches of this deadly virus," added Ali.
Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, Director General (DG) of DGHS, said that the government has provided a few millions taka to Sheikh Russel Gastroliver Institute & Hospital, BIRDEM General Hospital and BSMMU for Hepatitis treatment.
"Hepatitis virus spreads from the mother to the children. Besides, it's impossible to provide Hepatitis vaccines by going door to door. That's why Hepatitis treatment has to be ensured at community clinics nationwide," said Khurshid.
Attending the event as special guest, Liver Specialist Major General Dr Md Rabiul Hossain said that although there are five types of Hepatitis virus, Hepatitis B and C are the most prevalent.
"We used to know Hepatitis as Jaundice in the past. We've become aware of this virus for the last 20 to 25 years. Vaccination has been the government's most laudable step in preventing the spread of this virus. Due to this initiative, the Hepatitis virus has been tamed to a great extent," said Rabiul.
July 28 will be observed as World Hepatitis Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Hepatitis Alliance will jointly conduct the day's activities worldwide under the theme 'Hepatitis Can't Wait'. In Bangladesh, National Liver Foundation will carry out various awareness-raising activities on the day.