Every 10th Pakistani is a Hepatitis carrier, and there is a dire need of awareness to prevent its further spread, which is assuming serious proportions in Pakistan. This was stated by senior medical professionals while addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on Friday.
Hepatitis is spreading fast and afflicting people from all strata of the society, but "it is the dispossessed, and the lower and middle classes, who are constantly exposed to hepatitis because of polluted living ambience and poor sterilisation apparatuses at the public hospitals," said Prof Dr Javed Akram. "Hepatitis has become one the major health challenges. No effort is made for its early detection till physical signs start appearing. Then one cannot help the patient because either its treatment is not available or it is too costly to be afforded by the ordinary people. Vaccination is cost effective and all citizens must be immunised," said Dr Javed.
"Hepatitis A and E are mainly caused by polluted water and rotten food. While type A mostly gets cured, but is dangerous, particularly for pregnant females. Pakistan is a red-tagged state as far Hepatitis B and C are concerned. One must avoid unnecessary body pricking and piercing, unsafe sex and physical contacts, contaminated syringes, and drink clean water – both boiled and filtered – to avoid its occurrence," he suggested.
"It is primarily disease of the poor and the government must take this seriously and come up with awareness programmes instead of doing any sort of ‘drawing-room funding’. It is a family disease because if an individual of the family was suffering from Hepatitis, it is almost certain that the rest of the family would suffer from it," said Dr Javed.
Prof Dr Shaheena Asif said that the available statistics of Hepatitis were those of people visiting hospitals for treatment, and doubted the figures. "In private hospitals of metropolises, one out of ten, and 3 to 4 person out of the same number are afflicted with Hepatitis. Women are more vulnerable because of the social constraints, and husband’s pressure," she said.
"We need to stop its spread before it is too late because if one was infected with this disease, then there is no reversion to the situation. The nuisance of quacks needs to be curtailed, and the paramedics must be careful in their duties," maintained Dr Shaheena.
Hospital employees are one of the major carriers of Hepatitis and their screening should be done. "Things under the use of Hepatitis patients must be disposed off properly, and medicines adversely affecting liver should be banned immediately," said Prof Dr Abul Fazal Khan. "Separate machines must be provided in the public hospitals for Hepatitis patients. Dentists, especially the quacks in this field, should be monitored," said Dr Fazal.
Earlier, Abid Hussain, CEO, Otsuka Pakistan Ltd., covered issues pertaining to preventive and protective side of medical practices to avoid spread of Hepatitis.