We need to get Pakistan out of Hepatitis’ grip: minister

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Hepatitis is a fast spreading disease in Pakistan, which is one of the highest prevalence countries, therefore consolidated efforts of all concerned departments are needed to control this menace, according to Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique.

He added that a mass awareness campaign should also be launched across the Punjab while a topic on hepatitis control should also be included in the school syllabus. He was speaking while presiding over a high level meeting to review hepatitis control activities at Directorate General Health Services on Thursday.

Besides convener of working group and Prof. of Gastroenteritis of Lahore General Hospital Prof. Ghayas un Nabi Tayyab, officers of Health Department, Auqaf, Social Welfare, Environment, School Education, Blood Transfusion Authority, Institute of Blood Transfusion Services and officers of Punjab Information Technology Board attended the meeting.

Prof. Ghayas un Nabi Tayyab briefed about the hepatitis situation in the country, especially in Punjab. He told that at present there are about seven million carriers of hepatitis B and C in Punjab. He said that in order to control this deadly disease, there is a need to evolve a three-dimential strategy against hepatitis, which is surveillance of disease, prevention and treatment. He said that unsafe treatment by quacks, use of unsterilised surgical instruments by dentists and doctors, instruments of barbers, reuse of disposable syringes, unsafe blood transfusion and recycling of hospitals’ waste are among the causes of hepatitis. All the departments apprised the meeting regarding the steps taken for the control of hepatitis.

Rafique said that there is a need to take strict administrative decisions as well as launch a mass awareness campaign regarding hepatitis so that people can refrain from getting treatment from quacks and such dentists who do not use sterilised surgical instruments. He said that people should always insist on the use of a new blade while getting a shave from the barbers. He said that the Punjab Health Department has activated the Blood Transfusion Authority after 15 years to ensure safe blood transfusions.

He said that action has been started against sub-standard blood banks, however, people should also prefer fresh donors and screened blood for blood transfusion to their patients. Rafique said that there are hundreds of hospitals and clinics in every city and safe disposal of hospitals waste is essential to stopping it from being reused.