When eight out of 10 patients test positive for hepatitis, a health emergency can potentially be declared. Thatta has experienced a series of downturns and this is its latest challenge. A private organisation held a health screening camp on February 10th and 11th where 80 per cent of more than 500 people tested positive for hepatitis B or C. There were also other findings that reflect a need for health officials to pay attention to citizens of Thatta, such as diabetes and a massive lack of hygiene. Further misfortune for the residents of Thatta highlight that rather than plummeting into action and arranging make shift health facilities that are required to deal with the epidemic, its authorities — namely, the Thatta district health officer — are complaining that they were not made aware of the screening clinic that was held. Once again, our authorities act like children who do not know how to express displeasure in any other way than to whine.
Oppositely, provincial government officials should be ashamed that private organisations are doing their work for them by taking an initiative to screen 1,100 people. Government cooperation and teamwork would be much more beneficial to the people of Thatta than their moaning. The World Health Organisation states that hepatitis C can be cured in 95 per cent of patients with antiviral medicines but this is far out of the focus for government health officers. Both hepatitis B and C can be fatal and are contagious, meaning health workers could be dealing with a larger epidemic if adequate action is not taken. Hygiene conditions in the region exacerbate efforts to mitigate spread of the disease. Basic operating procedures would alleviate thousands of preventable disease cases but this is beyond the common sense of health departments.
It is a pity that even a disease, hepatitis B, that has a vaccine is found to occur in such high numbers. The Supreme Court, in its recent crackdown on holding provincial authorities accountable, should take notice of the people of Thatta being robbed of their basic health rights.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2018.
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