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Reuse of syringes major cause of Hepatitis

PHCP committed to eradicate Hepatitis from Punjab by 2030

By K A Mian

LAHORE: The Punjab Government is utilising all its possible resources to eradicate Hepatitis from the province by 2030 as committed with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Punjab Hepatitis Control Programme (PHCP) has significantly achieved its target of screening 40, 000 people, by the end of July 2018 while due to effective and aggressive campaign against Hepatitis, the PHCP has crossed double-figure beyond the goal of this year.
About 4,36,490 people were screened for HCV cases out of which 1,86,430 were diagnosed as positive while 2,50,060 HCV negative, 27000 HBV positive and 409490 HBV positive.
The data revealed that the main cause of spreading of Hepatitis was reusing of syringes in which a lamentable figure of 62 per cent spreading of Hepatitis identified because of quackery.
The data further disclosed that 14 high prevalence districts were identified including Jhang, Faisalabad, Nankana Sahab, Hafizabad, Pakpattan, Rahim Yar Khan, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Sahiwal, Okara, Sheikhupura, Lodhran and Muzaffar Garh where maximum cases reported.
Deputy Programme Manager, PHCP, Dr Shaban Nadeem expressed these views while talking to Daily The Business in connection with the World Hepatitis Day here on Monday.
Dr Nadeem said the mean objective of the PHCP is “Finding the Missing Millions” that means such people who are the career of Hepatitis B or C but they were not aware of this fact which could be persuaded.
He highlighted that Hepatitis is the highest cause of mortality globally and viral Hepatitis B and C are major health challenges, affecting 325 million people globally.
Pakistan bears almost 80 percent of the disease burden and almost 12 million people are suffering from Hepatitis B or C.
The majority of people get this infection in healthcare settings without being aware of it while major risk factors for the transmission of Hepatitis B and C infection are therapeutic injections, syringe reuse, surgery, improper sterilisation of invasive medical devices, blood transfusion, hospitalisation and sharing of razors while getting a shave from barbers.
The WHO estimates that approximately 71 million people worldwide have chronic Hepatitis C infection and around 400, 000 people die every year from it, mostly of cirrhosis or liver cancer whereas unsafe injections play a major role in transmitting Hepatitis C.
The report highlighted that Punjab is the first province in the country to address this issue by introducing a policy to ensure that 90 per cent of all syringes used in the health sector are auto-disable, meaning that they cannot be used more than once.
The data shows that as many as 47,000 barbers and beauty salons were registered and more than 2100000 safe barber kits were distributed among peddler’s barbers in all districts of Punjab in order to eradicate the second largest reason of spreading hepatitis.
The statistic further showed that the Hepatitis B birth dose was also introduced and more than 700000 newborns have been vaccinated in last one year.
Moreover, around 42,300 jail inmates were screened and vaccinated with Hepatitis B, whereas some 1,00,000 truck drivers, transgender and special school children were also screened and vaccinated.
The data revealed that some 5,71,709 people were registered including 1,15,152 pre-diagnosed patients and 4,56,545 new registered patients while 3,85,505 patients were vaccinated out of which 240624 patients were given the first dose, 139707 were given the second dose and 42316 were provided the third dose.
The Deputy Programme Manager emphasized that the PHCP would target interventions in all these high prevalence districts in future along with the Healthcare Commission Punjab.
In this regard, the PC1 would also be revised accordingly for aggressive screening in communities as well as at BHUs and RHCs.
Safe blood transfusion practices would be ensured in collaboration with BTA and PHC. Furthermore, the target-oriented and aggressive awareness campaigns against anti-quackery would also be run in all high prevalence districts with the support of the PHC.
Similarly, for eliminating one of the alarming and major causes (reuse of syringe) of spreading Hepatitis, around 13 million AD syringes (Auto-destructible Syringes) were replaced and distributed in all public sector hospitals of Punjab last year.

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