Delhi schoolkids made aware of hepatitis, organ donation

December 4th, 2008 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) School children of Delhi were Thursday made aware of measures to combat dreaded liver disease, hepatitis, as well as the importance of organ donation in saving the lives of persons afflicted by it.Over 100 students attended the presentation at the Maulana Azad Medical College, organised by the Delhi government’s department of family welfare in association with G.B. Pant Hospital and the college, to observe Hepatitis Day (Dec 4).

“The main aim on this occasion is to ensure we spread awareness among children about the prevention of hepatitis and to boost the Indian mindset to encourage organ donation, which can save the lives of many people,” said S.K. Sarin, professor and head of gastroenterology department at the hospital.

Sarin had initiated the ongoing campaign for hepatitis awareness way back in 1998. It is estimated that nearly 45 million Indians are suffering from hepatitis B and 15 million from hepatitis C.

“These are the most common causes of liver failure and liver cancer. The numbers of patients dying of hepatitis B in a year are nearly 100 times more than that of AIDS. Hepatitis is a more common and a more serious disease in India,” he said.

About a million people die each year from hepatitis B worldwide, making it the ninth leading cause of death, according to official figures.

However, both variants of the disease are preventable with vaccines and elementary modifications in hygiene and caution during blood transfusions.

The highlight of the annual event this year was huge participation by school children in the age group of 12-16 years. The theme this year was related to organ donation, especially liver. During the function a large number of people pledged to donate organs, after death.

Students from over 20 schools from Delhi participated in the poster and poetry competition, while students of nursing colleges presented a skit on hepatitis awareness. All participants were given a free blood screening test and counselling on the disease.

Participants said they were impressed with a presentation by Col. A K Seth, on viral hepatitis and organ donation, and motivated by the tales of soldiers donating their organs or organs of their family members when they die.

“A person can pledge organ donation while living, so after his death, the lives of others can be saved,” said a student of Guru Harkishan Public School as he emerged from the session hall.

“It is indeed important to dispel myths about organ donation - false hopes or religious beliefs are inhibitions for people to not donate organs. Sadly, awareness is not created at school level,” Seth said.

Children here understand that and can talk to their parents, families and spread the word that non-living donations are better than living donors, he added.

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