NDTV (New Delhi, India) (10.01.12)
Increasing numbers of cases of Hepatitis B infection in Bhutan have become a foremost health concern. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, a doctor at the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, stated that in 2011 alone, there were 744 Hepatitis B cases reported. Wangchuk said that the higher rate of detection was due to the rising number of testing centers. However, Wangchuk told the Bhutanese daily newspaper that Bhutan also has Hepatitis A and C. The health ministry’s chief program officer, Tandin Dorji, said recently that the government is not currently supporting a hepatitis awareness campaign, although patients are provided free medical treatment. Also, Bhutan currently places less emphasis on testing Hepatitis C, which is more serious. Bhutan, with a population of slightly more than 650,000, launched the Hepatitis B vaccine program in 1997 after a high prevalence of the disease surfaced. Hepatitis B infection can lead to cancer and liver cirrhosis, and the virus is spread through unsafe sex, blood transfusions, or sharing needles contaminated by the virus.