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Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh Launches Indo-French Initiative to Combat Fatty Liver Disease

New Delhi: Every third Indian has a fatty liver, a condition that often predates Type 2 Diabetes and other metabolic disorders, according to Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, a nationally renowned diabetologist. Dr. Singh made this statement at the launch of the Indo-French Liver and Metabolic Disease Network (InFLiMeN), a virtual node aimed at preventing and curing metabolic liver diseases, held at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in New Delhi.

In his address, Dr. Singh emphasized that InFLiMeN will focus on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a common metabolic liver disorder that can progress to cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. “NAFLD predates diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and many other diseases. As an endocrinologist, I understand the nuances of fatty liver and its relation to diabetes and other metabolic disorders,” he said.

Alongside Dr. Shiv Kumar Sarin, Director of ILBS, and Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Dr. Singh discussed the implications of lifestyle, diet, and metabolic syndromes such as diabetes and obesity on the rise of NAFLD in both the Indian subcontinent and Europe. He pointed out that nearly one in three Indians has fatty liver disease, and intriguingly, about 20% of non-obese patients in India also suffer from NAFLD.

Dr. Singh highlighted the significant burden of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) in both India and France, noting the similar progression of NAFLD and ALD from steatosis to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

“India has become a global leader not just in curative healthcare but also in preventive healthcare,” Dr. Singh stated, stressing the need for simple, low-cost diagnostic tests for detecting various stages of fatty liver and their progression. He called for Indian-specific interventions and algorithms to address the unique phenotype of the Indian population.

He further emphasized the importance of a joint multi-disciplinary collaborative program like InFLiMeN to understand the development, progression, and management of liver diseases using a comprehensive omics approach for biomarker discovery. Dr. Singh highlighted the necessity of cooperation between the government and private sector to enhance healthcare services and promote healthy living.

The Minister underscored the government’s initiatives and policies aimed at improving the healthcare system, asserting that “a large population in India is affected by metabolic disorders, and we need Indian solutions for Indian problems.” He expressed his confidence that the virtual node would soon become a real node and assured full support from his departments.

Dr. Singh also appreciated the efforts of Prof. Abhay Karandikar and the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPERA) for their novel approach. He congratulated Dr. Shiv Kumar Sarin and his team, along with their French collaborators, and directed them to develop low-cost, high-output remedies for metabolic disorders. Currently, 11 French and 17 Indian doctors are working jointly in this node.

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