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KARACHI: Pakistan needs to launch door-to-door screening for Hepatitis B and C if it intends to eliminate the viral hepatitis by 2030, leading gastroenterologists said on Wednesday and urged the federal and provincial governments to immediately prepare a comprehensive strategy to ascertain the actual number of people infected with viral hepatitis so they could be treated on war-footing basis.

“Entire world is heading towards elimination of Hepatitis B and C but unfortunately, its prevalence is increasing in Pakistan, especially in Sindh. If Pakistan fails to eliminate viral hepatitis, it may face travel restrictions in the years to come”, warned Dr. Lubna Kamani, consultant gastroenterologist and President of Pak GI and Liver Disease Society (PGLDS) at a news briefing at Karachi Press Club (KPC).

A screening camp was arranged by the PGLDS at Karachi Press Club (KPC) for the journalists and their family members in connection with World Hepatitis Day 2022, which was followed by an awareness session and a walk to highlight the severity of viral hepatitis in Pakistan.

Dr. Lubna Kamani, who is associated with Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) as well as Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) Karachi, claimed that Hepatitis B and C kill one person within every 15 minutes in Pakistan, saying around 35,000 people die every year in the country due to complications of both the viral infections, which are not only preventable but are also treatable.

She maintained that Egypt, which had millions of Hepatitis B and C patients till a few years back, has managed to eliminate the viral hepatitis by screening its entire population and providing them free of charge medicines and added that now very effective medicines are available for the treatment of viral hepatitis.

On the occasion, PGLDS president Dr Lubna Kamani said Pakistani physicians and students would be sent to Egyptian institutions for the training as her society was working hard to promote culture of research and training in the field of gastroenterology.

Dr. Shahid Ahmed maintained that prevention is better than cure in the case of Hepatitis B and C as in most of the cases, infected don’t know about their disease and when they learnt about their infection, their liver is damaged to an extent where liver transplants remained the only treatment. “Even after the liver transplant, people need to consume expensive medicines and take extra care, which compromises their quality of life”, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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