More than 300 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) globally, and a large proportion of these reside in South Asia. HBV remains the main etiology for all forms of chronic liver diseases ranging from chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis of liver to hepatocellular carcinoma in South Asia.
The region is also faced with an emerging epidemic of fatty liver affecting all age groups in view of the propensity of South Asians for central obesity and metabolic syndrome.
On the other Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has become a major public health menace in Pakistan and Northern India. Although the region is among the fastest growing economies, significant percentage of the population of this region is still under poverty line and illiteracy is also a concern, not to mention social taboos, local customs, dependence on traditional medicines and so on.
Besides, these are major other deterrents in this region such as treatment affordability and compliance. Lack of adequate Hepatologists, Gastroenterologists and specialists trained in managing liver diseases is also a major problem.
In this context, there was a need for an Association to foster greater cooperation amongst the hepatologists of this region and their national associations, and translate the advances in hepatology into greater benefits for the practitioners of hepatology as well as the citizens of South Asian countries.
With this background, the South Asian Association for Study of the Liver (SAASL) was constituted in Dhaka on October 6, 2012 in a meeting held at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel during the 3rd Asian Pacific Association for Study of the Liver (APASL) STC on HBV.