Viral hepatitis, also known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, affects millions of people around the globe. Pakistan has one of the highest hepatitis C rates in the world. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can cause liver diseases including cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is estimated that almost 71 million people worldwide have a hepatitis C infection with about 4000,000 dying every year from it (WHO). Though there is no vaccine for the disease, antiviral medicines cure more than 95% of those infected.
Many factors contribute to the high prevalence of hepatitis in Pakistan. These include the use of dirty syringes, lack of blood screening prior to transfusion, unhygienic dental instruments usage, re-use of razors at barbershops, use of unsterilized beauty instruments (for manicures and pedicures) and poor disposal of infectious waste.
One major effort to tackle this disease has taken the form of the Hepatitis Prevention & Treatment Program (HPTP) at the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Center (PKLI). Inaugurated on March 18, 2017, the PKLI HPTP clinic is now fully operational, providing treatment to those infected with hepatitis B and C, free of cost.
While prevention is most important for the elimination of hepatitis, testing and treatment of those already infected is of the utmost importance in order to save lives. Realizing the seriousness of this disease, Pakistan is stepping up efforts to tackle this problem by improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
IDAP has collaborated with PKLI to provide patients with access to top-class medical facilities, renowned hepatitis experts and the latest medicines at the Hepatitis Prevention & Treatment Program clinic. The purpose-built clinic aims to help eliminate hepatitis from the country, with future plans including the establishment of other clinics in all 36 districts of the Punjab. Through this project, IDAP hopes to provide both care and cure to those affected by hepatitis in the country.