'10 to 12 million Pakistanis infected with hepatitis B and C'
30 July, 2012
KARACHI: Early detection and effective treatment are the keys to combat viral hepatitis. A research conducted at Aga Khan University (AKU) suggests that out of nearly 70 percent of patients suffering from Hepatitis C, younger patients with hepatitis C genotype 3 infections have the best chance of a cure provided they are diagnosed early and treated effectively. The data was shared by
doctors in an event organised at AKU in collaboration with Pakistan Society for the Study of liver diseases, to mark World Hepatitis Day. An AKU statement said that many people are chronic carriers of hepatitis B and C in Pakistan, show no symptoms, and yet develop severe liver problems later in life. Dr Saeed Hamid, Chair, Department of Medicine, AKU added that according to recent national surveys, it is estimated that 10 to 12 million Pakistanis are infected with hepatitis B and C. “Hepatitis can affect anyone; therefore know it, confront it and get tested,” urged Dr Hamid. Dr Wasim Jafri, Associate Dean, Department of Continuing Professional Education, AKU elaborated that Hepatitis B could be easily diagnosed and effectively controlled through
medication that usually needed to be taken regularly over a long period of time. Unfortunately, the Hepatitis B virus can be transferred from an infected mother to her newborn during birth. But an infection can be prevented by giving the baby a Hepatitis B immune globulin shot and a series of vaccinations starting at birth. Without vaccination, babies born to women with a Hepatitis B infection can develop chronic hepatitis, which can lead to serious
health problems. Patients who develop severe liver disease as a result of chronic hepatitis are at risk of developing liver cancer. According to Dr Faisal Wasim, Assistant Professor Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, AKU, such cases require regular ultrasound screening of the liver. Failure to do so could prove fatal, warned Dr Wasim. Stressing the role of diagnostics in fighting hepatitis, Dr Shahab Abid, Head, Section of Gastroenterology, AKU, lauded the work of the AKU Hospital’s Clinical Laboratory in facilitating early diagnosis as well as
helping monitor treatment. “State of the art and quality laboratory testing gives AKU the leading edge in the treatment of viral hepatitis,” he added. Both Hepatitis B and C are transmitted through blood that has not been screened properly, contaminated needles and drug injection equipment. Providing screened blood for transfusions, using sterile needles and surgical instruments and the safe disposal of medical waste would lead towards a hepatitis-
free Pakistan. Rozina Roshan, Manager, Nursing Practices, stressed that prevention is the key to controlling viral infections that cause hepatitis. She highlighted the effectiveness of the hepatitis B vaccine, which is fortunately part of the routine immunisation of infants in Pakistan.