KARACHI: Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) has chalked out an elaborate program on the day for public awareness, on 28th of July. from 9 a.m to 4 p.m, at Suleman Dawood Auditorium, Transplant Tower, SIUT here.
A team of doctors and specialists will be present at SIUT to provide expert advice to the public, and carry out free Hepatitis B and C tests, Hepatitis B vaccination, Dietary advice, Video, and Question/Answer sessions.
Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi has urged all the stakeholders to create awareness about the importance of early diagnosis of hepatitis, and invite all partners and supporters to work together for its elimination in Pakistan.
As of 2021 estimates, one in every 13 adult Pakistanis was hepatitis C positive. There were about 9,775,000 people living with hepatitis C and around 27,000 died each year due to its complications, he said in a message on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day being observed on July 28.
The president said hepatitis C was a silent killer disease where people once infected continued to carry the virus in their bodies.
According to one estimate, in Pakistan, 86% of people remained unaware of the infection and its consequences, and risked transmitting the disease to their families, he added.
The president said,“If we do not act now, the number of HCV infections shall increase from 9 million to 10.5 million and deaths due to this disease shall increase from 27,000 to 31,000 by 2030.”
He said the World Hepatitis Day was being commemorated every year to raise awareness about the viral hepatitis and its various types, such as hepatitis B and C viruses which were the major global public health threats causing morbidity and mortality.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one person died every 30 seconds due to a hepatitis-related illness, he said, adding in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), 80% of the hepatitis C disease burden lay in Egypt and Pakistan.
“In line with the World Hepatitis Day 2022 theme “I can’t wait”, we need to create awareness about the importance of its early diagnosis and treatment to save precious lives,” the president stressed.
All those who were infected, needed to be tested urgently and those who had the disease, needed to be given treatment before it was too late, he added.
Fortunately, the president said, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medicines could cure HCV infection in adults within 12 weeks and Pakistan was producing the medicines at very affordable prices.
“The cure rate of these medicines is 97-98%, which is similar to that seen around the globe. Hepatitis C elimination is, therefore, a low-hanging fruit which is not only possible but also feasible for Pakistan,” he added.
The president further said investing in HCV treatment and prevention over the next 10 years could significantly reduce the HCV-related cancer burden, death, and morbidity in Pakistan with its results becoming visible in the next 5 years.
“The risk factors for disease need to be addressed on an urgent basis by ensuring safe blood transfusions; ensuring the use of auto-disable syringes in healthcare settings; preventing the reuse of syringes, and ensuring strict infection control practices in all healthcare settings,” he added.
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