Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has been appointed as the goodwill ambassador for Hepatitis in Southeast Asia on Friday. Mr. Bachchan, a survivor of Hepatitis B, will be the face of an intensive campaign to curb the spread of the disease and create awareness of its prevention.
Mr. Bachchan said, “I have realised how disabling something like this [hepatitis] can be. I was unaware what hepatitis is and how it can be detected. But when I found out, I felt that I must work towards not entirely eradicating it but at least spreading awareness.”
The actor said he contracted the disease in after he suffered an accident while shooting on the sets in 1982. He was administered several units of blood and one of them was carrying the hepatitis virus. Mr. Bachchan said, like with many other patients, the disease remained undiagnosed for a long time. By the time it was detected, doctors told him that 75% of his liver was damaged. “Fortunately, the medical team informed me that I could live on the remaining 25%.” Mr. Bachchan said to curb the disease the government’s support and commitment of workers who will spread awareness of disease is important.
The disease claims 4.1 lakh lives in the Southeast Asia every year; mostly people who are in their productive years. According to the World Health Organisation’s latest estimates, 90 million people suffer from chronic liver disease.
Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO, said, “Mr. Bachchan’s support will reinforce WHO’s efforts to end hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.” She said the government is looking at how medicines for hepatitis can be made more affordable. “It is worrisome that only 10% of the overall hepatitis patients know that they have hepatitis. There is a need for more testing so that the diagnosis is better.”