15mln Pakistanis suffering from Hepatitis: Dr Zaigham Abbas

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By Nasir Mahmood

KARACHI: According to an estimate, the number of hepatitis patients in Pakistan had crossed the mark of 15 million this year. It shows that about 10 million people have been exposed to Hepatitis C while 5 million to Hepatitis B. Pakistan is only second to China in the total pool of Hepatitis C patients in a single country. Fatty liver disease is becoming another major health issue in the country. There is an utmost need to increase the awareness of people about the risk factors, prevention and treatment of hepatitis B, C and fatty liver. This was disclosed by Dr Zaigham Abbas while addressing the awareness session about different types of hepatitis, hosted by Dr Ziauddin Hospital as interactive public awareness session to mark the World Hepatitis Day here yesterday. Prof Zaigham Abbas, head of the department of Gastroenterology, Ziauddin University & Hospital focused on the hurdles in hepatitis cure and the importance of screening and early diagnosis in his informative lecture. During awareness session a documentary video about hepatitis control was displayed by Prof. Zaigham Abbas, which highlighted the mode of spread of Hepatitis B & C in Pakistan. He said almost 5 percent of population is suffering from Hepatitis C and 2.5 percent from Hepatitis B. “There are five main hepatitis viruses, as types A, B, C, D and E. And unluckily all five hepatitis viruses are present in Pakistan. Hepatitis A and E spread through water, sewage systems, pollution of food or contaminated drinking water etc. whereas, unhygienic environment, injection, drips, syringes, needles, unsterilized equipment, poorly screened blood for transfusion and dirty use of razors by barbers are the main causes of spread of hepatitis B & C in Pakistan”, Prof Abbas further said. He stressed the need of preventive measures to control this epidemic in Pakistan. Dr. Ziauddin Hospital is not behind others for this noble cause of making a hepatitis free Pakistan. There is a need of case finding and proper management of patients. Hepatitis C is curable & Hepatitis B is controllable. Prof Abbas said that it should be the objective in a person’s life to get precautions of hepatitis through capacity building and training. We also need training for the medical staff for early detection of hepatitis and a need to eradicate the negative taboo associated with hepatitis. The event was attended by large number of participants including medical students, doctors, paramedical staff from different universities and hospitals, NGOs, and social activists. Free screening of Hepatitis B & C along with blood test, liver function test & ultrasound liver was arranged. Those who were negative on screening were advised for Hepatitis B vaccination. The question answer session was also conducted during which expert panel including professor Zaigham Abbas and Dr Khurram Baqai replied to different queries of the public pertaining to common liver diseases including hepatitis.

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