Amitabh Bachchan appointed WHO's goodwill ambassador for hepatitis
The World Health Organisation on Friday appointed Amitabh Bachchan as its goodwill ambassador for hepatitis in South-East Asia region to boost awareness and intensify action to arrest the epidemic.
Announcing the decision here, WHO's Regional Director for South-East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh termed it a "historic association" as viral hepatitis kills 4,10,000 people in the region, which also includes India, annually.
"This historic association is expected to help strengthen WHO's efforts in reducing the high numbers of premature deaths and illnesses from viral hepatitis which is not only causing hardships to individuals and families, but also impacting health and development across the South-East Asia region," she said.
Nearly 90 million people suffer from chronic liver diseases, which are driving rates of liver cancer and cirrhosis in the region, according to the WHO estimates released this year.
"I am absolutely committed to the cause of hepatitis. As a person living with hepatitis B, I know the pain and sufferings that hepatitis causes. No one should ever suffer from viral hepatitis," a WHO statement quoting Bachchan during an event in Mumbai said.
As WHO goodwill ambassador for hepatitis in the region, Bachchan will lend his voice and support to public awareness programmes that aim to scale up preventive measures and advocate for early diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis.