LAHORE: As many as 50,000 people have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C in Punjab over the last six months, confirming that Pakistan has the second highest prevalence of the deadly disease in the world, a report from a private media outlet revealed.
Out of the over 600,000 screened people at the hepatitis camps all over the province, nearly 50,000 were found suffering from the disease. Officials say as per the 2008 international data, six to seven per cent of Pakistani people suffer from hepatitis.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease that ranges from a short, mild illness to a serious, lifelong condition.
Multiple use of medical syringes is one of the chief causes of Hepatitis C transmission. In order to counter this, Punjab is the first province in Pakistan to introduce a policy to ensure that public health facilities use auto-disabled (single use) syringes. The government aims to regulate and increase the uptake of auto-disabled syringes in the private hospitals and medical facilities in the future.
Another risk factor that is being addressed by the Punjab government is the spread of Hepatitis through barbers and salons. Cuts caused by contaminated instruments such as scissors, clippers and razors are a major source of spread of Hepatitis. Under the Hepatitis ordinance, the Punjab government has launched a campaign to initially raise awareness and register barbers and salons.