KARACHI: According to World Health Organization (WHO) it is estimated that globally, 354 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B and C. Both ailments lead to approximately over 1.1 million deaths each year and these deaths could be prevented by vaccination of all infants against hepatitis B and by timely testing and treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, said Dr. Anila Kazmi, Group Head Quality Assurance at Dr Ziauddin Hospital.
Addressing in an informative virtual seminar on "Hepatitis can't wait" to mark World Hepatitis Day, organized by her hosptial, she said both hepatitis B and C can lead to lifelong infection. WHO estimates that 1.1 million deaths occurred in 2019 due to these infections and their effects including liver cancer, cirrhosis, and other conditions, caused by chronic viral Hepatitis.
The seminar was held to provide awareness to health professionals and the community to fight against hepatitis, and to convey the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
Speaking on chronic hepatitis C and its management, Dr. Sohail Hussain, Assistant Prof. Consultant Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Dr Ziauddin Hospital said Pakistan is facing an epidemic of hepatitis C. Almost 14 million people are affected with hepatitis C in the country. Most of the people are unaware of their health status because the disease is asymptomatic in its initial course.
According to the Pakistan Medical and Research Council, the prevalence of Hepatitis C virus HCV in four provinces was: Punjab 6.7%, Sindh 5%, Balochistan 1.5% and KPK 1.1%
Pakistan is a middle-income country and has limited resources. Therefore, it should more focus on devising and implementing the effective preventive strategies to reduce the disease burden of hepatitis C, said Dr Sohail.
Dr Qamarul Arfin, Assistant Prof, Consultant Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Dr Ziauddin Hospital said that hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. In 2021 WHO estimated that 12% to 25% of people with chronic hepatitis B infection will require treatment, depending on setting and eligibility criteria. The virus is commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery, blood transfusion and other body fluids with an infected partner, unsafe injections and exposure to sharp instruments. WHO estimates that 296 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection in 2019, with 1.5 million new infections each year in 2019, hepatitis B resulted in an estimated 82,000 deaths mostly from primary liver cancer.
Prof Nasir Laique, Chairperson of Department of Gastroenterology, Consultant Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Dr Ziauddin Hospital said their hospital has a robust screening Hepatitis B & C system, with data monitoring and effective treatment & management of all pertinent cases.
He said they are in the process of supporting the WHO goal, i.e., achieve elimination by 2030 by encouraging people to access hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment service. Dr Inayat Ali Khan, Director Services, Dr Ziauddin Hospital also spoke.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021