While we have tamed the number of viral hepatitis cases, India has seen a rise in liver diseases linked to poor lifestyle. Shortage of organ donors worsens the situation.
Liver plays a key role in the digestive system, it being one of the most complex organs in the human body. It can also easily be damaged if not taken care of. With the rage of drugs, alcohol consumption and consumption of fast food on the rise along with harmful chemicals like pesticides constantly being injected in our fruits and vegetables, India has seen a rise in the number of liver disease in the past few years. According to the National Health Portal of India, every 1 in 5 Indians may be affected by liver disease. It is also the tenth most common cause of death in India as per the World Health Organization.
According to a data published by WHO, liver diseases in India have reached 3% of the total deaths in India. Earlier the majority of liver diseases developed due to Hepatitis B and C. However, with a change in lifestyle and diet, more and more causes related to liver problems reported are stemming from alcohol and obesity related disorders. According to Dr. Neelam Mohan, a liver transplant surgeon at Medanta, “We always talk about viral hepatitis, but non-viral hepatitis caused by our lifestyle will be the biggest cause of liver morbidity and mortality in the next 20 years. With the new vaccines and medicines, the burden of viral hepatitis will slowly reduce while the lifestyle related disease will go up.”
India has also seen a significant rise in the cases of liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. When cirrhosis reaches its advanced stage, it can also become life threatening. According to a report published on the National Health Portal of India, “about 10 lakh new patients are being diagnosed with liver cirrhosis every year in India.”
While on the one hand there is a rise in liver diseases in India due to poor lifestyle choices, on the other hand India also sees a shortage when it comes to organ donation. According to Dr Amrish Sahney, Associate Consultant, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, BLK Super Specialty Hospital, “In north India, 97 per cent of liver transplants are Living Donor Liver transplants, whereas only 3 per cent are cadaver (after brain death) transplants.” Only 5-7% of Indians give up their organs for donation. This has created a huge gap when it comes to the number or donors and the number of recipients.
Tags- world liver day, liver diseases