KARACHI: Pakistan with an estimated population of 13 million hepatitis sufferers, many of whom are unaware that they are carriers of the deadly virus, is observing World Hepatitis Day 2015 with focus on prevention of the viral disease.
This is in accordance to the announcement by WHO and World Hepatitis Alliance that the campaign theme for current year’s World Hepatitis Day, falling on Tuesday will be Prevention of Viral Hepatitis B and C.
Viral hepatitis – known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease.
Globally, 500 million people are estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis B or C.
In particular context of Pakistan non availability of potable water to vast majority of the local population has already enhanced incidence of Hepatitis A among the masses coupled with high risk to contract Hepatitis E for expecting mothers exposed to contaminated and unsafe water for drinking purpose or otherwise.
Moreover, unwarranted application of injections and tendency to be on drip therapy increases risk to Hepatitis B and C that are blood borne infections.
The annual campaign aims not only to raise awareness among the general public and infected patients, but also to urgently promote improved access to hepatitis services, particularly prevention interventions.
Series of programs have been chalked out by government and non governmental organizations in the metropolis to mark the day that will start with a walk being organized under the aegis of Chief Minister’s “Hepatitis Free Sindh” program in Malir.
This is planned to followed by a seminar at Murad Memon Goth Community Hall, with Health Minister, Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar as the chief guest and provincial secretary for health as well as D.G – Health among the speakers.
Reputable institutions as Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation and Dow University of Health Sciences have also arranged series of program for the occasion.
Besides providing needed guidance to the masses the events arranged for World Hepatitis Day 2015 are also expected to draw attention of policy-makers, health workers and the public towards this silent killer and also urge them to “think again” about its prevention.
Teams of doctors and specialists will be present at SIUT to provide expert advice to the people at large and also carry out free medical tests, consultation and vaccination.
Experts talking to APP said transmission of the virus can be prevented through better awareness and services that improve vaccinations, blood and injection safety, and reduce harm.
Dr. Rana Qamar a senior hepatologist said Hepatitis B is a silent disease which could infect people for many years without clear manifestation or symptoms.
In the given situation, she said it was essential to prevent hepatitis and know the risks reminding that Hepatitis B is one of the most infectious diseases in the world and a major public health problem.
“Unsafe blood, unsafe injections, and sharing drug-injection equipment can all result in hepatitis B infection,” she said mentioning that two million people a year contract hepatitis from unsafe injections.
Using sterile, single-use syringes can prevent these infections moreover vaccination of children against hepatitis B can protect from the infection for life.
The expert also mentioned that effective medicines exist to treat hepatitis B and cure hepatitis C and it was now upto the government as well as concerned organizations to facilitate people in getting tested and seeking timely treatment.