Every 12th Pakistani suffering from hepatitis

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Health experts have stressed the need to make people know more about causes, preventive measures and timely treatment of the hepatitis disease.
The most important aspect of prevention is screening of blood products, sterilised equipment, and better hygienic standards in barbershops, said Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology Dr Muzzaffar Lateef Gill, while talking to APP on Friday. He said it is an easily controllable disease, but mild lapse in precautions can lead to very disastrous consequences. He, however, said treatment of hepatitis B and C in the last decade was revolutionised.
He said hepatitis C sub-type which exists in Pakistan is close to 90 percent curable if appropriate treatment procedure at proper time is adopted.
He said there is need to adopt two-prong approach, one is to prevent the spread of the disease and the second approach is to have foolproof treatment for every body, who is suffering from hepatitis B and C. He said, for prevention purposes, there should be universal vaccination for hepatitis B, which is almost in progress everywhere in the country. He said 500 million people in the world population are exposed to hepatitis. He added every 12th individual in Pakistani population is suffering form hepatitis B and C.
He said in Pakistan there are two types of viral hepatitis, one is short lived and self-limited, hepatitis A and E which spreads through feco-oral-route. He said summer season epidemics of this type of acute hepatitis are very common throughout the developing world. It is because of poor hygienic standards. Hepatitis C and B, he said, is a blood-born disease and usually chronic and has long term consequences.
He said every Hepatitis C patient deserves a best chance of treatment. Every patient should be given once weekly injection and Ribavirin therapy. He said if first-time treatment in this population is not done rightly, it becomes very difficult to treat them subsequently. He pointed out that availability of quality drugs is an issue. The consequences of treatment failure are huge as the patient develops advanced stage disease, like cirrhosis, then patient starts bleeding and belly swells up and then the only option is liver transplant, he added. He said country’s budget is insufficient to take care of these end-stage liver disease patients and there are no existing transplant facilities in the country. He said despite sincere efforts in public and private sector, there is no fool proof liver transplant facility in the country. He said there is need to establish good quality liver transplant center in the country.
He said the World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year to promote awareness among people about the disease, its spread, prevention and treatment.
Research fellow, Dr Uzma Gill, said “There is a reasonable awareness among doctors and people regarding the cause and spread of disease, but in terms of timely diagnosis and treatment we are not at a level, where we should be.” She said private-public partnerships in true spirit and sincerity are needed to get rid of this disease and making the country free from hepatitis.
Meanwhile, the Shifa International Hospital will hold a free hepatitis screening camp at gastroenterology clinic to provide free screening services from 10am to 3pm on Saturday (today).
The camp will be set up to mark World Hepatitis Day, falling on July 28. Another free medical camp will also be established for hepatitis patients at Shifa Pharmacy and Medical Centre in Pak PWD Housing Society, Islamabad Highway. Eminent Liver Transplant Surgeon Dr Faisal Dar along with his team will check hepatitis patients.
According to the hospital management, the main aim of organising the camps is to create awareness among the masses and provide to them a free facility to know about their liver in order to prevent serious health issues related to liver. They said people from all walks of life are likely to participate in the campaign as their active participation can only make these campaigns successful.
The management has appealed to the citizens of the twin cities to participate in the medical and screening camps with their loved ones to save them from deadly diseases like hepatitis B and C.