Meghalaya plans to expand the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), to curb deaths due to non communicable diseases linked with Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
A meeting was held today between officials of the National Health Mission, Meghalaya and the State NCD Nodal Officers.
Dr. Kanika Kaushal, Assistant Professor of Clinical Research and Epidemiology at the Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences (ILBS), New Delhi stressed on strengthening the implementation of NAFLD into the national programme by conducting a state-wide pilot for the state of Meghalaya with the support of the institute.
She said that NAFLD is the abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver in the absence of secondary causes of fatty liver, such as harmful alcohol use, viral hepatitis, or medications. According to research, it is a serious health concern as it encompasses a spectrum of liver abnormalities, from a simple non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL, simple fatty liver disease) to more advanced ones like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and even liver cancer.
Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department, Sampath Kumar stated that liver health can play an important role for managing various other NCDs. He highlighted the important support that the Mid Level Health Providers (MLHPs) can provide. The need to close the gap between research and implementation was stressed upon, as was the need for effective public communication and sensitisation about the issue.
Globally, NASH caused 40 lakh prevalent cases of compensated cirrhosis in 1990, which increased to 94 lakh cases in 2017. NAFLD is emerging as an important cause of liver disease in India. Researchers have found NAFLD in about 40 per cent to 80 per cent of people who have type 2 diabetes and in about 30 per cent to 90 per cent of people who are obese. Studies also suggest that people with NAFLD have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
The meeting also highlighted a critical role that the Village Health Councils (VHCs) in Meghalaya can play in terms of community empowerment as well as prevention of diabetic cases.
It may be recalled that in February 2021, India pioneered the need for action for NAFLD whereby Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister, Health & Family Welfare, launched the operational guidelines for integration of NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) with NPCDCS (National Programme for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke) in the same year.