Acknowledging that alcohol abuse leads to major diseases and even death in many cases, Union Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju said, "Health sector interventions are needed and it is something that we didn't get our hands clearly on. This is a lapse."

Speaking at the inauguration of the international symposium on alcoholic liver and pancreatic diseases and cirrhosis organized by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), he said, "Alcoholism and the diseases that result from it, is unfortunately an area where we have not made any significant dent. Part of the reason here is that, at a policy level our approach has always been somewhat confused. Government policy in the matter of alcohol has always been torn, where on one hand the sale of alcohol is being regarded as revenue priority, there is equally a very strong case for ban on alcohol."

He also said that though there were several programmes, centrally funded and implemented in states for disease control, "we do not have any dedicated activity for liver complaints, liver related diseases. This is a gap that needs to be fulfilled."

Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Director ILBS and professor and head of hepatology at ILBS, emphasised on government providing support for patients suffering from hepatitis B and C and liver diseases.

"Insurance companies don't reimburse if a person gets admitted to a hospital due to liver disease or cancer. Government provides support for HIV patients and provides TB drugs, there is no support for hepatitis B and C and nobody gets reimbursements. We must understand that whether it is diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, the core of all of these is liver," Sarin said.


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