Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) has inked a memorandum of understanding with a Kolkata-based institute for cooperation and implementation of a community-based project on delivery of comprehensive hepatitis B virus (HBV) care in Arunachal Pradesh.
The John C Martin Foundation of the USA is funding the project with Liver Foundation West Bengal (LFWB), a unit of Indian Institute of Liver and Digestive Sciences (IILDS) as the primary recipient of the grant and RGU as the sub-recipient.
The project entails population screening and linkage to care.
As part of the project, the institutions will collectively build rural community outreach and viral hepatitis clinical testing capabilities, consolidate viral hepatitis disease characterisation and research capabilities and also sample general populations in Arunachal to understand HBV prevalence and characteristics, while linking participants to care including vaccination, monitoring and treatment.
Worth Rs 60 lakhs, the 10-month project would target 3,000 people of all ages and both sex residing in the state and build the capacity of healthcare workers (doctors and nurses) about disease states, prevention, care and treatment of hepatitis B, in addition to training laboratory workers to conduct clinical tests for hepatitis infection, diagnosis and monitoring.
The project would also conduct screening of hepatitis B and hepatitis C to identify those currently infected, previously exposed, immunised by vaccination and at-risk for infection.
After the results are analysed and reported, individuals will be followed up according to the status of the screening results.
Those with chronic infection will be referred to infectious disease or liver specialists.
Vaccination will be offered to those who are at risk and vaccination of infants will be conducted, starting with birth dose according to WHO guidelines.
IILDS was represented by its Secretary of Board of Governance, Abhijit Chowdhury at the signing, while the RGU team comprised of Vice-Chancellor Saket Kushwaha, Registrar Tomo Riba, members of the Executive Council of RGU, Akin Tana Tara and officers of the university.
Congratulating both the institutions, Kushwaha said that the MoU was an indicator of the larger role that a university needs to play in addition to providing access to higher education and research. “Universities must engage with civil society and constantly explore ways of how it can contribute to the state’s well-being. Academic work is one component of what we do. This, the outreach and finding synergies with the people, is another significant component that RGU has always striven to deliver,” he said.
IILDS is an emerging centre of excellence for research and patient care services for liver and gastrointestinal disease.
The institute has been set up and governed by LFWB, a non-government charity involved in liver disease awareness programmes, institution building for provision of advanced care and fostering cutting edge research in liver diseases, through the application of state-of-the-art technology as well as knowledge in the context of regional priorities as well as research in liver disease.