Government integrates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in national NCD prevention program – Mint

Government on Monday integrated the Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke as a similar strategy adopted to tackle noncommunicable diseases can be adopted to prevent this disease as well.

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 doctors 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.

Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare on Monday, launched the operational guidelines for Integration of NAFLD with NPCDCS. The union health ministry said that over the last two decades global burden of NASH has more than doubled. 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.

“Epidemiological studies suggest the prevalence of NAFLD is around 9% to 32% of the general population in India with a higher prevalence in those with overweight or obesity and those with diabetes or prediabetes,” said Harsh Vardhan.

Researchers have found NAFLD in 40% to 80 % of people who have type 2 diabetes and in 30% to 90% of people who are obese. Studies also suggest that people with NAFLD have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in NAFLD.

“Once the disease develops, there is no specific cure available, and health promotion and prevention aspects targeting weight reduction, healthy lifestyle, and control of aforementioned risk factors are the mainstays to disease progression and prevent the mortality and morbidity due to NAFLD,” said the union health minister.

The union health ministry plans to expand the program to curb deaths due to NCDs linked with the condition as NAFLD is an independent predictor of future risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic syndromes like hypertension, abdominal obesity, dyslipidaemia, glucose intolerance.

“The Government of India is of the view that existing NPCDCS programme strategies can easily be aligned to prevent NAFLD through lifestyle changes, early diagnosis, and management of associated non-communicable diseases as well as NAFLD. Accordingly, doable actions have been identified with main focus on health promotion and prevention of common NCDs which would also specifically cater to the identified needs of NAFLD,” said Harsh Vardhan.

The government said that existing NCD programme’s strategies can now be aligned to achieve the objectives to prevent and control NAFLD with behavior and lifestyle changes, early diagnosis and management of NAFLD, building of capacity at various levels of healthcare for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of NAFLD.

Ayushman Bharat- Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) are also helping in curbing NCDs.

“The Ayushman Bharat programme has so far screened 838.39 lakh people for hypertension, 683.34 lakh for diabetes and 806.4 lakh for the three common forms of cancer through the HWCs,” said the health minister.

“They have so far organised 6.91 lakh yoga and wellness sessions at the community level. Apart from treating the poorest of the poor, they are also mandated to inculcate healthy living at the grassroots among the community. Along with the focus of ‘Eat Right India’ and ‘Fit India Movement’, the entire vision of the government is to move from Diagnostic Cure to Preventive Health,” he said.

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