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Punjab to offer free tests, treatment for Hepatitis B too

A nurse preparing an injection. Photo: fernando zhiminaicela/ Pixabay

Chandigarh/SAS Nagar, June 22 (MNN) The Punjab government would henceforth offer free tests and treatment for Hepatitis B in all government health institutions.

In addition, Hepatitis B viral load testing facility will be extended at 27 centres free of cost for the well-being of marginalised sections of society.

The Health Department has entered into a rate contract with Oncquest Laboratories as per which the company has provided a laboratory technician at every district hospital and government medical college.

Hepatitis B samples will be taken at these institutions from the patients free of cost, while the test cost will be reimbursed to the lab by the state government at Rs 851.

Treatment for Hepatitis B is extensive and expensive but the state will give free medicine to patients.

Even Hepatitis B positive patients under treatment at PGIMER in Chandigarh would be provided free medicines. A Nodal Officer has been deputed at the PGI has been handed over stock of requisite medicines.

All patients infected with HIV, persons under treatment at OST centres and all pregnant women will be offered Hepatitis B and C tests free of cost. Any positive rapid test will be followed by free viral load test.

All medical specialists and doctors of Punjab who treat Hepatitis B and C have been trained by Dr Varinder Singh, Professor and Head of Hepatology at the PGIMER.

Punjab was the first state in the country to introduce free tests and treatment for Hepatitis C about five years ago.

The Hepatitis C treatment centres have since been increased from 25 to 66.

So far, about 96,000 patients in Punjab have been treated for Hepatitis C free of cost. Their cure rate is 93 per cent.

The treatment of Hepatitis C was continued even during pandemic.

In 2020, about 12,000 patients were treated for Hepatitis C and by May 2021, approximately 4,900 patients have been treated.

Around 61 lakh persons have been vaccinated against coronavirus so far in Punjab.

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