Massive Awareness with strong legislation is most effective weapons against Hepatitis

Karachi: On the occasion of the eight World Hepatitis Day under the patronage of World Hepatitis Alliance and WHO, the Hepatitis Control Program of Government of Punjab also celebrated 8th World Hepatitis Day in Lahore in order to bring awareness about liver inflammation and its causes.

An awareness seminar was organized by Govt of Punjab in which Khawaja Salman, Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab, Dr. Zahid Pervaiz, DG Health Govt of Punjab, Professor Dr. Ghayas Un Nabi Tayyab, Dr. Aftab Mohsin addressed to the public and media along with leading key opinion leaders. Approximately 1 in 12 persons, or around 400 million people globally, have chronic viral hepatitis and most of them do not know they are infected.

Whether in developed countries or under developed countries, people are equally suffering with Hepatitis regardless to any caste or creed, religion or ethnicity said By Dr. Ghayas Un Nabi Tayyab. Hepatitis is a public health issue and impacts millions of Pakistanis. Viral hepatitis is among the top 10 infectious disease killers. Both chronic Hepatitis B and chronic Hepatitis C cause approximately 80% of the liver cancer. Various studies and statistics shows that 5 to 10% Pakistani population is affected with Hepatitis, however in some areas this ratio is up to 35% stated by Dr. Aftab Mohsin

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Khawaja Salman said in his address that Pakistan, being a high prevalence country for infectious hepatitis, has to take steps on war footing to adopt measures to prevent the spread of hepatitis in its masses. Eradication of this disease from Pakistan can only be possible through better awareness, prevention, care, support and access to treatment at all levels engaging various professionals like doctors, health workers, social workers and beauty salon staff etc.

The Media & religious scholars can also motivate public for this change Dr. Zahid Pervaiz suggested three main methods of arresting the spread of the disease. These, he said, were, the role of the media; the role of the clerics (Ulma & priest); and strong and fool proof legislation.

As for the media’s role, he said that it would be worth the while if periodically advertisements appeared in the print media about the dangers of the scourge and ways to stave it off. Regarding the clerics, he said that the Ulama and should be asked to highlight the need for the public to adopt preventive measures in their Friday & other sermons. There should, she said, be foolproof legislation to see that the disposable syringes were destroyed right in the presence of the patient to avoid it’s recycling and transmitting the disease to other.

It is important to understand that infectious hepatitis is a preventable disease and public in general, policy makers and implementers need to be educated about the potential routes of spread and ways and means to check the spread from a diseased to a healthy person. In Pakistan Hepatitis A and E viruses are very common as the main causes of these viruses are polluted food and water. Hepatitis A and E viruses, causing endemic type of hepatitis with increased incidence towards the rainy season, spread by contaminated food and water. Provision of clean drinking water and improved sanitation can reduce the spread of this type of hepatitis substantially.

An effective vaccine providing lifelong immunity is available for the prevention of HAV infection, though no such vaccine is available for HEV. Hepatitis B & C ratio is 8 – 10 % and main reasons behind are unnecessary use of syringes, unsafe blood transfusion, usage of unsterile equipments in dental procedures, piercing and other beauty procedures such as pedicure etc.

Usage of used blades in shaving is also a one common reasons in rural area. HBV and HCV infections have a potential to turn chronic and cause the fatal complication of cirrhosis of liver if left untreated. HBV and HCV infections area transmitted by infected blood contaminated needles, surgical instruments and very close contact. HBV spread can be prevented by mass vaccination with the available preventive vaccine and in case of infected individuals a very effective suppressive therapy is available with a chance of cure as well. HCV infection can be treated effectively in a large proportion of people, if detected early.

No preventive vaccine is available yet. Experts said that we need to implement the relevant laws very strictly specially implantation of ‘Blood transfusion act 2002 and enforcement of infection control SOP’s of healthcare commission act’ in the Public and private healthcare facilities can reduce the ongoing spread of HBV and HCV infection Doctors strongly emphasizes the need for developing strong preventive measures, early diagnosis and getting the treatment early if tested positive. Prevention is the key and public offices, Media and civil society should play their role in educating all concerned.

 

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