Call to raise hepatitis awareness

Experts say majority unaware of how viral infection can be prevented


Jamil Mirza July 29, 2021
The faculty members and students of Rawalpindi Medical University took part in a walk organised to mark World Hepatitis Day. PHOTO: EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI:

Health experts have called for effective action towards combating hepatitis through sustained awareness and education as World Hepatitis Day was marked in Pakistan and the rest of the world on Wednesday.

According to data, around two million people die of hepatitis in the world every year with a three per cent global ratio of hepatitis C and seven per cent Hepatitis C cases. The disease is fast spreading in Asian countries with Afghanistan being on the top and Pakistan ranking second in the world.

The experts cautioned that hepatitis was fast spreading and prevalence of the disease was increasing all over the world, especially in developing countries where one of the major causes was lack of awareness. They said that the practice of unnecessary needle pricking and administration of intra-venous drips also contributed to the spread of the disease. Hepatitis was spreading rapidly in the country, mainly caused by intimate contacts, use of contaminated syringes, unhygienic practices at barber shops and failure of screening of blood at blood banks, they added.

The health experts said that the infected patients have a high tendency of catching liver and breast cancer if not diagnosed and treated on time. According to health experts, around 80 per cent of hepatitis cases are caused by the use of unsterilised syringes and other equipment.

Read Hepatitis elimination from society linked to awareness

Gastroenterologist and Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Omar said that hepatitis can only be warded off by taking precautionary measures and creating awareness. He urged the people to use only disposable syringes and avoid getting gratuitous injections.

Dr Omar said that timely diagnosis of hepatitis could save people from suffering from liver cancer, which is treated through liver transplantation, an extremely expensive procedure.

He added there is a vaccination course for hepatitis B and C if it is diagnosed timely. For this purpose, he said, that there is a PCR test facility in all public hospitals, where medicine is also made available. The normal injection course for the treatment of hepatitis C has been replaced by a course of medicine, he said.

The health expert said that jaundice or Hepatitis A is caused by consumption of impure water, uncooked food, rotten fruit and ice candy etc.

Health expert Dr Israrul Haq emphasized the need for expanding awareness regarding the lethal disease. The more a citizen is aware of hepatitis, the more he would secure himself against it, he said, adding that people should not visit quack doctors to get treatment against hepatitis and jaundice.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2021.

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