Surender Kumar is the founder of RANN Foundation, an organisation that focuses on developing the potential of women and girls to drive long-lasting, equitable changes. They focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a specific focus on target 3.3 which aims to combat communicable diseases, including viral hepatitis, by 2030.
My passion for the elimination of viral hepatitis comes from a personal experience, one which has affected both me and my family. During a visit to a blood donation camp in 2010, I learned that I had hepatitis B. This diagnosis came as a complete shock to me. I immediately urged the rest of my family to get screened for hepatitis B. We learned that three of my family members were also living with the virus, and we had all contracted the virus due to mother-to-child transmission. Prior to my diagnosis, I had no knowledge of the condition – I hadn’t even heard of hepatitis B.
I left my job as a human resources executive and decided to start education programmes about the viruses in the most vulnerable slums and villages in India. This was a big decision, because my job was my family’s only source of income. However, being a survivor, I knew it was my duty to protect future generations. I founded a new organisation called RANN Foundation, with the aim to create awareness around viral hepatitis, whilst also working to prevent new cases in India. RANN Foundation builds partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals everywhere to work and learn faster, to find solutions that last, and to transform lives and communities from what they are today, to what they can be tomorrow.
Our NOhep Delhi project takes awareness programmes to schools to educate students and teachers about viral hepatitis. It is important to include young people in the fight for elimination, because hepatitis can affect people of all ages. During our education programs we use NOhep campaign materials which help provide an understanding on the prevention, causes and treatment for viral hepatitis. We are currently training senior female students to educate their juniors and other community members about hepatitis. They were all very excited to sign up for the training and have showed dedication throughout the programme.
So far, we have taken project NOhep Delhi to 17 government schools, reaching approximately 35,000 children. We have also started to conduct hepatitis awareness programmes in three major slums. We collaborated with Max India Foundation to run immunisation camps, where we provided the hepatitis B vaccination to 800 children. We are now planning an intensive awareness generation campaign, which will use different methods such as health awareness camps and meetings.
To me, NOhep means positivity, enthusiasm and commitment towards the fight against viral hepatitis. I urge key stakeholders to come forward and raise awareness of hepatitis. We can start making a difference from our home. Through getting vaccinated and tested for hepatitis and motivating other people to do the same, we will be taking steps towards NOhep – a world free of hepatitis.