‘Punjab alone cannot battle hepatitis’

Health minister says all provinces must make joint efforts to eliminate the disease


Our Correspondent November 23, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Health Khawaja Imran Nazir has said the struggle for a hepatitis-free Pakistan by 2030, a goal set by WHO, required joint efforts by all provinces. “Punjab alone could not eliminate the disease.”

He said tireless efforts and integrated strategy must be adopted by provincial governments. Nazir further stated the government of Punjab had started its practical struggle by introducing Hepatitis Prevention Ordinance 2017 and credit goes to Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and all officers and all staff of Primary and Secondary Health Department.

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He expressed these views while speaking at the launch ceremony of Hepatitis Prevention Ordinance 2017 at a local hotel on Wednesday. Besides, Secretary Health Ali Jan Khan, Special Secretary Dr Mukhtar Hussain Syed, Dr Sadain, Chairman PKLI Dr Syed Akhter, Prof Ghiasun Nabi Tayyab, representatives of international development partners and the large number of staff of the department attended the ceremony.

“The law has been promulgated; however, cooperation of all the stakeholders and the civil society was required to implement the law for which we have to rid of from personal interests,” he said.

Nazir said before the bifurcation of health department, the main focus was on the curative site, but there was a need to take measures to prevent people from the diseases.

“Without prevention of diseases, we cannot produce a healthy society. The Primary and Secondary Health Department has started a comprehensive programme to control different diseases. Integrated efforts are required for eradication of hepatitis otherwise this menace will destroy the health of our people,” the minister remarked.

Earlier, Secretary Health Ali Jan Khan said Pakistan, and particularly Punjab, were facing four major challenges in the health sector such as infant mortality, maternal mortality, malnutrition and the rapid spread of hepatitis.

“During the current year, the target for the treatment of 100,000 hepatitis patients has been fixed and the medicines are being provided at the doorsteps of the patients through currier services,” he said.

“Hepatitis filter clinics are being set up at the district headquarter level. Moreover, the government has introduced auto disable syringes.”

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He said 50% auto-disable (AD) syringes have been included in the system and within next two years, 100% disposable syringes would be replaced by AD syringes. Ali Jan Khan said 62% of hepatitis cases were transmitted through the reuse of disposable syringes.

Speaking on the occasion, Programme Director Dr Zahida Sarwar said that after enforcement of ordinance, licenses for beauty parlours and barber shops would be mandatory. She said training programmes would also be started for the staff of beauty parlours and barber shops. Addressing the ceremony, Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) Chairman Dr Saeed Akhter said 1.2 million people in Pakistan need liver transplantation.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2017.

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