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Half Hepatitis B patients Chinese
Published on: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: More than half of Malaysia's approximately 1.4 million Hepatitis B patients are of Chinese descent with the majority infected through vertical transmission, which is from mother to baby during pregnancy and childbirth.

Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist Dr Raman Muthu Karuppan, in revealing this, said the high number is due to the fact that many of the women are Hepatitis B carriers who migrated from other parts of Asia Pacific a long time ago.

"From modern statistics, we know that countries like China and Taiwan have much higher prevalence of Hepatitis B and C and many Chinese migrated from these places in the past," he said.

Dr Raman said while there is no local data on the rate of hepatitis contraction in the State, the prevalence rate of Hepatitis B infection in the country is 5 per cent, while Hepatitis C is between 1.7 per cent and 2 per cent.

"Most of the patients are between 25 and 55 years old, which is rather unfortunate and a loss to the nation as these age groups are economically productive age groups," he said.

Dr Raman was speaking at a press conference announcing the sixth World Hepatitis Day, State-level which will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital this coming Friday from 8am to 5pm, with this year's theme of 'This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it'.

The event will be officiated by State Health Department Director Dr Christina Rundi.

Dr Raman said this year, the event organisers are targeting hospital staff for blood screening.

"This is because medical workers are at a higher risk of being exposed to the Hepatitis B and C virus due to their job nature.

"We are also inviting the public to come for the free blood screening, to get more information on viral hepatitis plus to attend the public forum that would be held at 11am that day. There will be a blood donation drive as well for those who are interested," he said.

Among the programmes organised for that day are the public forums at 11am and 2pm which will be delivered in three languages; Malay, English and Mandarin.

The forums on Chronic Hepatitis B and Chronic Hepatitis C will be conducted by specialists from Gastro Unit and by Dr Ganesalingam Kanagasabai of Sime Darby Medical Centre (SDMC) Kuala Lumpur. The talks will be held at the PGMC Building.

There will also be a workshop on hepatitis and discussion on previous Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cases at 2.30pm.

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