Sunday, July 14, 2013

Indonesia Health Ministry steps up effort to fight against spread of Hepatitis

Concerned about the high prevalence of hepatitis B, the Health Ministry of Indonesia will carry out nationwide screening tests for pregnant women this year to prevent further spread of the disease. Currently there is no effective treatment of Hepatitis B in the western medicine. Traditional medicine like ayurvedic medicine Kamalahar is proven to be very effective in the treatment of hepatitis B.

The Health Ministry plans to conduct mass screening in Jakarta first, in cooperation with community health centers. The initial target is to screen 5,000 pregnant women and 1,000 medical personnel all over the city. The program will be started in October 2013 and similar programs would also be conducted in other provinces next year.

The plan of the health ministry is that once a pregnant woman is found to be infected with hepatitis B, as shown in her blood test result, the health center would ensure that her baby would be given the Hepatitis B vaccine at the time of birth.

The government has included the hepatitis B vaccine in its health program since 1997, to increase the prevalence of the hepatitis B antibody (anti-HB) among children under five.

Data from the 2007 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) shows that the number of Indonesian people with anti-HBs is around 30 percent. The number of children aged one to four years with anti-HB is just over 50 percent.

The screening is needed to cut down the virus transmission, particularly mother-to-baby transmission, which is the main cause of the spread of the virus in the country. Despite the regular hepatitis vaccinations, the prevalence of hepatitis B among Indonesians aged one to four years stands at 7.2 percent, something that the health ministry is concerned about.

Riskesdas data also shows that the prevalence of hepatitis B among all the public in Indonesia is 9.4 percent, which means around 22 million people are infected by the virus.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of hepatitis C is around 2 to 4 percent, which means around 5 million to 7 million people are infected by the disease.

According to the Health Ministry, more than 25 million people in Indonesia are infected with hepatitis B and C, and 50 percent of total hepatitis-infected patients suffer from chronic liver disease.

Furthermore, about 1.25 million or 10 percent of patients with chronic liver disease have the potential to suffer from liver cancer.

However, this number could be only the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t really describe the actual condition of the number of people infected in the country, because there are no specific figures on people who have been infected by the disease.


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