15m people infected by Hepatitis in Pakistan

KARACHI: Hepatitis has emerged as one of the major public health problems in Pakistan as out of five common types of Hepatitis (A,B,C,D and E), prevalence of Hepatitis B in the country is six million and that of Hepatitis C is seven million.

According to estimates, overall 15 million people somehow harbour hepatitis viruses in their bodies, said Dr Syed Hussain Askary, Head of Dental Public Health, Director Academics & Administration, Fatima Jinnah Dental College (FJDC) Karachi. He further explained that with a national prevalence of 4.9% for hepatitis C and 2.4% for hepatitis B, Pakistan is currently facing an epidemic of viral hepatitis.

Fatima Jinnah Dental College & Hospital has chalked out a full month of activities to promote prevention and early diagnoses for treatment of Hepatitis. The campaign started with an inaugural seminar held quite recently. The seminar was attended by over 200 doctors and experts in the field. The speakers presented latest research papers which highlighted new methods of diagnosis and management of the disease. Many emphasized the importance of prevention of the disease. Dr S Baqar Askary, CEO & Head of the Institution, FJDC, Dr. Tasleem Hosein, Principal, FJDC hosted the ceremony.

Dr. Hussain Askary, in his keynote address informed that on 28th of July every year is declared as World Hepatitis Day by WHO. This year’s slogan is “This is Hepatitis. Know it. Confront it”. The slogan inspired him to immediately take the bull by its horns and along with the faculty of the College; the entire month of July 2013 was dedicated to know and confront Hepatitis. Vigorous campaigning; activities involving doctors of various hospitals, schools teachers, faculties of colleges and universities, medical and dental students volunteers and community were motivated.

This campaign got a boost as many of them were already involved for “Passion for Prevention”, a nationwide platform provided by Fatima Jinnah Dental College & Hospital for disease prevention. He further informed that their primary aim is to highlight this issue as much as possible through print and electronic media, walks and talk shows / dialogue with health authorities and government officials.

He also highlighted the fact that numerous programs in the last 10 years had been announced by the government. Websites illustrate elaborate plans, but what has actually been implemented and what outcomes have been achieved remains a mystery for all of us.

FJDC’s students, faculty and doctors, have also organized awareness campaign for the general public, posters, banners, and flyers were being used for the awareness. A number of lectures for the general public have also been scheduled. During this month, every patient visiting the dental and medical hospital, located in Azam Town, is receiving check-up and advice under direct supervision of the specialist doctors. Those identified to have hepatitis, are being treated free of cost, necessary lab investigations are being provided on cost to cost basis. The above activities were publicized well in advance on local cable channels.

The young doctors present at the free camps informed that medical professional and paramedics are the ones at the highest risk, as one in every 10 people are caring the virus.