Sun, Dec 4, 2016 | updated 05:24 AM IST

Tata Trusts, Gilead sign MoU to address viral hepatitis in India

Updated: Aug 04, 2016 17:51 IST

New Delhi, Aug 4 (ANI): Tata Trusts and Gilead Sciences, Inc. today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under the presence of Chairman Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata to explore collaborating within India on an initiative to address the burden of viral hepatitis in the country.

This effort takes place in the context of an expanding focus on the public health challenges posed by serious diseases, including viral hepatitis, representing significant unmet medical needs in India.

Under the MoU, Tata Trusts and Gilead will form a Joint Program Committee to implement activities pertaining to prevention, awareness and education, testing and treatment, and health systems strengthening activities in the field of viral hepatitis in India.

Linkages with state governments, non-governmental organizations and public health agencies will be established to promote the cause.

Hepatitis viruses B (HBV) and C (HCV) pose a serious threat of becoming a silent epidemic in India. HBV is the second most common cause of acute viral hepatitis in India, with a prevalence of approximately four percent - more than 40 million individuals are estimated to carry the virus.

The prevalence of HCV infection in India is approximately one percent. Most infected persons are unaware of their chronic carrier status. Left untreated, viral hepatitis can lead to life-threatening liver cirrhosis (or scarring), liver failure and liver cancer. The burden that the diseases place on society through the loss of a productive workforce and on the healthcare system is acute.

"As a part of our overall health strategy aimed at addressing communicable diseases in India, we look forward to partnering with Gilead to create unique models to reduce the prevalence of viral hepatitis in the country," said Managing Trustee Tata Trusts, R Venkataramanan.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Tata Trusts, an organization that shares our goal of improving people's health and quality of life. Viral hepatitis presents a complex public health challenge in India, and by working in partnership and pooling our expertise, we hope to identify sustainable initiatives that can have a lasting impact on the burden of disease," said Executive Vice President Commercial and Access Operations Asia Latin America and Africa Corporate and Medical Affairs at Gilead, Gregg Alton. (ANI)