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HYDERABAD: Health experts have underlined the importance of screening for hepatitis B and C in order to stop the diseases from spreading widely and at an alarming speed.

They were speaking at a seminar organised to mark the World Hepatitis Day here on Thursday by the provincial health department and the Chief Minister Hepatitis Prevention and Control Programme.

In his address Dr Zulfiqar Dharejo, the in-charge of the programme, pointed out that Pakistan has the second-highest prevalence rate of hepatitis in the world. This year the World Health Organisation’s theme — ”I cannot wait to get tested” — is aimed at persuading the common people to get tested, and if diagnosed with hepatitis, to get treated as soon as possible, he said.

Dr Dharejo said that according to a report of the Pakistan Medical Research Council, one million people have hepatitis B and two million hepatitis C. Keeping in view this alarming situation, the Sindh government has been endeavouring since 2009 to control the spread of the disease. Under the CM’s programme 63 treatment and 19 vaccine centres are providing treatment to the people free of cost.

The initiative is aimed at eradicating the disease by the end of 2030 and to achieve this target the provincial government has been making all-out efforts.

Prof Dr Bikha Ram said that prevention is a way to save oneself from hepatitis, adding that it is high time the people as well as the authorities take the disease seriously. Awareness campaigns should be organised on a war footing so that people take the disease seriously and go to Hepatitis Centres for screening of hepatitis B and C. He said that although the disease may be prevented and even cured, people are largely unaware of its treatment. Prevention plus vaccination is the only way to save oneself from the potentially deadly disease.

Dr Ram said that 10 million people have already fallen victim to the disease, which is quite alarming.

Divisional Commissioner of Hyderabad Nadeem-ur-Rehman Memon was of the opinion that awareness functions and events should be held on a regular basis rather than just on the World Hepatitis Day.

District Health Officer Lala Jafar Pathan said that vaccines can play a vital part in stopping the disease from spreading further. The vaccines are being provided free of cost; so people should get themselves vaccinated against the disease as soon as possible. Earlier, an awareness walk was held in which a large number of people took part.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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