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Chanthaburi residents aged 30 and above can register for a free blood test via LINE starting July 22 onwards. The project aims to raise awareness about liver disease, reduce the incidence of liver cancer, and improve the survival rate.
Bangkok, July 27, 2022 – The Center of Excellence in Cancer at Prapokklao Hospital in Chanthaburi Province held a press conference titled “Mission to Conquer Liver Disease” to raise Thais’ awareness about the incidence, risks, prevention, screening, and treatment of liver disease. As part of the mission to conquer liver diseases, the center also launched a pilot program called “EZ Liver Clinic (Easy Liver Clinic) to increase access to timely treatment and to help the Thai public better understand the risk factors of liver disease and improve their participation in screening programs and on-time treatments.
This pilot project was initiated by both the public and private sectors that are involved and responsible for health promotion and education for the Thai people under a collaborative program called “LEAP (Liver Ecosystem Advancement Program)”. They include the National Health Security Office (NHSO), medical experts, and a multidisciplinary care team that comprises gastroenterologists; hepatologists; oncologists; liver, pancreas, and biliary tract surgeons; vascular and interventional radiologists; as well as Roche Diagnostics (Thailand) and Roche Thailand. LEAP shows the commitment on working together to help Thai people access effective screening and treatments on time, leading to a better quality of life and a higher chance of patients’ survival.
LEAP’s commitment is in line with the World Hepatitis Alliance’s campaign on World Hepatitis Day, which is observed every July 28. The campaign goes with the concept of “Hepatitis Can’t Wait” for hepatitis B and C patients worldwide, including in Thailand. It urges patients to not refrain from the screening process or prolong the time until the symptoms progress and the condition becomes cirrhosis or liver cancer. If the patient is diagnosed and treated effectively, they will have greater chances of cure and survival.
It is estimated that 2.2 million Thais are carriers of hepatitis B, while another 300,000 to 800,000 are carriers of hepatitis C , which often do not show any symptoms but can still be transmitted to others through blood, sexual contact and mother-to-child during birth. When the hepatitis virus enters the body for a while, the body begins to build up immunity to fight infection, causing liver inflammation. Therefore, blood tests to detect the surface antigen (HBsAg) allow physicians to determine the stage of the disease and prescribe oral medications to treat viral hepatitis. In addition, some patients may develop liver fibrosis or cirrhosis. This is where examination by ultrasound, along with a blood test to measure the biomarker, once every 6 months becomes very important.
This picture shows the development of live cancer from chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis
Recognizing the importance of screening and early access to treatment for liver cancers, the EZ Liver Clinic pilot project at the Center of Excellence in Cancer at Prapokklao Hospital is now encouraging people aged 30 and above in Chanthaburi to add friends to its LINE Official Account @ppkezliverclinic and register for a free blood test.
– Chanthaburi residents living in the Muang district can get a free blood test at the Center of Excellence in Cancer Building, 2nd Floor, Prapokklao Hospital, which occurs on Fridays from 8.30 – 16.00 hrs. from July 22 to September 30, 2022. This targets to benefit about 2,000 people.
– Those who live in other districts in Chanthaburi can get a free new fingertip blood test for hepatitis B, at the Sub-district Health Promoting Hospitals (SHPH) starting August 1 onwards or while supplies last. This targets to benefit about 10,000 people.
Prof. Pisit Tangkijvanich, MD, President of the Thai Association for the Study of the Liver (THASL), said, “Hepatitis B and C infection is a leading cause of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) in Thais. Multi-stakeholders’ collaboration in initiating projects related to prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment to cover the population thoroughly and equitably should become an important agenda. It is also very beneficial to the development of the healthcare system of Thailand.”
Teerapong Tunak, MD, Director of Prapokklao Hospital, said, “In the past, we have detected approximately 100 new liver cancer cases in Chanthaburi each year caused by hepatitis B or C infection. More than 75% of the new cases were in metastatic stage which cannot be cured. If the high risk groups, especially those aged 30 or above, join the screening process to identify whether they are infected, they are able to receive faster treatment and increase their chances of cure right from the early stage. The EZ Liver Clinic project also aims to shorten the diagnosis process of chronic hepatitis B and cirrhosis from four months to four weeks, and reduce the diagnosis process of liver cancer from six months to only six weeks. Timely treatment is instrumental in increasing the survival rate.”
Apirak Pisutaporn, MD, Chief of Chanthaburi Provincial Health Office, thanks to all parties involved, including the public and private sectors that join hands in this project: “Since 1992, Thailand has started a national policy of vaccinating people against hepatitis. However, the most concerning group is people aged 30 and above who may have latent hepatitis infection in their blood at birth. In Chanthaburi, there are 344,038 people who may not have been vaccinated and are at risk. It is estimated that the chance of infection could be as high as 15 percent, or 51,605 people. In the first phase, the project provided 12,000 test kits in the EZ Liver Clinic project (comprising 10,000 from the Center of Excellence in Hepatitis and Liver Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University and 2,000 from Roche Diagnostics (Thailand)). This serves as a starting point to support the work of medical personnel to discover about 1,800 patients with hepatitis and allow these patients to access treatments. We would also like to invite 12,000 people in Chanthaburi aged 30 and above to get a free blood test at the Sub-district Health Promoting Hospital (SHPH) or local hospitals nearby. They are also encouraged to add friends to our LINE Official Account @ppkezliverclinic for risk assessment and locate the closest hospital where screening can be performed.”
The EZ Liver Clinic pilot project was supported by the private sector, including Roche Diagnostics (Thailand) and Roche Thailand, to help medical personnel screen for risks and monitor liver cancer, in line with LEAP’s effort to increase the chance of cure and survival rate for patients.
Mr. Pichetpong Srisuwankul, Managing Director, Roche Diagnostics (Thailand), said, “Roche is very pleased to be a part of this pilot project to start the screening for risk and high-risk groups for hepatitis B and C, which is the main cause of liver cancer. It is undeniable that diagnosis in patients with liver disease is extremely important. The more accessible to diagnostics, the earlier patients can start their treatment journey; and thus improves their quality of lives.”
“Roche is committed to working with muti-stakeholders in the LEAP collaborative program to drive and improve the treatment outcomes for patients with liver disease and liver cancer. Participating in the EZ Liver Clinic pilot project, we feel very proud to help patients who may still lack disease awareness to get checked and treated in a timely manner. We hope that in the future the incidence of liver disease in Thailand will significantly decrease, and that liver cancer patients will survive longer with better quality of lives,” said Mr. Farid Bidgoli, General Manager, Roche Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Published : August 18, 2022
By : THE NATION