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KARACHI: Hepatitis B and C viral infections are a ‘pandemic within a pandemic’, which are killing three to four times more people on daily basis in Pakistan as compared to Covid-19, health experts claimed on Tuesday, saying daily 300 to 325 people were dying due to complications of the viral hepatitis as compared to damages caused by the coronavirus.

“Hepatitis is three to four times more lethal viral infection in Pakistan where around 300 to 325 are dying daily due to complications of Hepatitis B and C. on the other hand, COVID-19 deaths hardly cross the figure of 100 in single day so there is a need have equal focus on the prevention, screening and treatment of Hepatitis B and C in Pakistan”, Pakistan GI and Liver Diseases Society (PGLDS) president Dr Lubna Kamani told an awareness session in connection with World Hepatitis Day 2021 on Tuesday.

A screening camp, awareness session and a walk was organized by the PGLDS in collaboration with the Health Committee of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on the eve of World Hepatitis Day 2021, which is observed every year to highlight the global burden of viral hepatitis and to stress for its elimination from the world by 2030.

Over 150 journalists, their family members and employees of the KPC were screened for the Hepatitis B and C at the screening camp, organized by the local pharmaceutical firm Hilton Pharma while gastroenterologists and hepatologists associated with PGLDS highlighted menace of Hepatitis in Pakistan as well as ways and means for its prevention and elimination from Pakistan.

Dr. Lubna Kamani, who is also gastroenterologist associated with Liaquat National Hospital and Aga Khan University, claimed that around 150,000 new cases of Hepatitis B and C were emerging in Pakistan where the combined number of viral hepatitis patients was over 15 million, which is the largest number of people living with Hepatitis B and C after China.

Another leading gastroenterologist associated with Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Karachi, Dr. Nazish Butt said Hepatitis B and C are silent killers and if a person is infected with either of the virus, it remains silent in the body for years, damaging the liver of the infected person.

Patron of the PGLDS Prof Shahid Ahmed, head of gastroenterology department at Darul Sehat Hospital Karachi, said awareness about Hepatitis B and C was the key to its prevention and treatment, saying it is now a treatable viral infection.

They urged the government to launch the mass screening drives in cities as well as in rural areas of the country, saying 90 percent of country’s population needs to screened, and of those test positive for hepatitis B and C, 80 percent should be provided treatment while 65 percent deaths due to viral hepatitis should be prevented for their elimination by 2030 from Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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