Agartala, Nov 22 (IANS) As many as 650,000 people in Tripura will be vaccinated against Hepatitis B by March next year, says an NGO that has undertaken a mass immunisation programme in association with the state government.
'Tripura is the only state in India where the Hepatitis Foundation of Tripura (HFT), an NGO of northeast India, in association with the state health department has undertaken mass immunisation of Hepatitis B vaccine since 2003,' Pradip Bhowmik, physician and HFT president, told reporters Monday on the sidelines of a mass state-wide vaccination programme.
'Since 2003, our organisation in collaboration with the Tripura government has vaccinated 550,000 men, women and children,' he said.
By March next year, 650,000 people in the northeastern state would be covered under the mass immunisation against Hepatitis B, he said.
In Tripura, Hepatitis B positivity is four to five percent, while 11 percent of the doctors' fraternity is vulnerable to this infectious disease.
In Arunachal Pradesh, 21 percent people of some tribes are infected by the Hepatitis B virus because of vertical transmission and non-institutional baby delivery in unhygienic places.
HFT general secretary Dibakar Debnath told reporters that through 31 permanent centres across Tripura, the NGO has been vaccinating on an average 125,000 people every year and a special mass hepatitis B eradication programme through 200 transitory centres was initiated in Tripura last year.
Calling it a 'dreaded' disease, Bhowmik pointed out that two to seven percent people in India have been infected with the Hepatitis B virus but the central government has yet to undertake any mass countrywide vaccination programme.
'It (Hepatitis) is one of the dreaded diseases that can cause serious liver ailments and other organ damage,' Bhowmik said.
According to the experts, 8 to 10 percent of tribals in India are affected by the Hepatitis B virus.