“We must not fear Hepatitis B. We must fight it."
At 73, Amitabh Bachchan is still a busy bee. Films, television commercials, social campaigns and other promotions keep him on his toes. However, on Monday, in a shocking revelation, for the first time, the superstar of Bollywood announced that he is Hepatitis B patient and has lost 75 per cent of his liver to the deadly disease.
Amitabh has also launched campaign films, in which he revealed his medical history to inject confidence, moral support and strength to millions of people who are fighting this life-threatening disease. He is also the new brand ambassador for an awareness camping on Hepatitis B.
Amitabh in the first video also explained how he contracted the disease.
“In 1982, I met with an accident during filming of Coolie. I had to undergo an operation, during which I was given 60 bottles of bloods. One of those blood samples was infected with Hepatitis B, which reached by liver,” he says.
“Many years after, when I was informed of this during a routine check-up, I was also told that only a quarter of my liver survived. However, with the help of the right treatments, I'm standing before you today and still working,” he adds.
According to a 2014 report by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), “India has over 40 million hepatitis B infected patients, second only to China, and constitutes about 15 per cent of the entire pool of Hepatitis B in the world. The prevalence of this disease is high in tribal areas and every year nearly 600,000 patients succumb to this disease.”
“Viral hepatitis, a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease. Hepatitis B and C are both blood borne and can be transmitted from man to man. Hepatitis B is responsible for 1.4 million deaths every year, compared to 1.5 million deaths from HIV/AIDS and 1.2 million from each of malaria and TB,” the report added.
Meanwhile, in another video, Amitabh has also highlighted the unfair and injustice treatment meted out to Hepatitis B patients.
“Today, I'm here to reassure you that Hepatitis B, cannot be transferred merely through contact or proximity to a patient. I live with my family, I play with my children, I interact with so many people. It has not affected my daily life nor affected my family. But it has come to my knowledge those who are suffering from Hepatitis B are subjected to injustice,” he says.
“They ( Hepatitis B patients) are not given employment, female patients are thrown out of their house by families, generally they are treated very badly,” he adds. “A Hepatitis B patient needs medical treatment and support from the family and the society.”
He also makes an humble request for everyone to support Hepatitis B patients, through the film.
A joint initiative from the government and UNICEF had attempted to put the spotlight on this global public health problem, which is also the most neglected medical problem, with a star campaigner like Amitabh. He has led many campaigns as brand ambassador for medical cause, including UNICEF's successful pulse polio campaign and has been creating awareness about tuberculosis (TB).
Amitabh, in the video, also recommends to get the baby's vacation for Hepatitis B done at birth and get the next three done in the first year as a prevention against this disease. His goal is to instil courage in Hepatitis B sufferers and increase public awareness through this campaign.
“We must not fear Hepatitis B. We must fight it,” motivates Amitabh.