Fight against hepatitis flares up
ISLAMABAD: Secret of success in fight against hepatitis is to enable the masses to know how to dodge this killer before it lands them in hospital. Prevention is possible in most cases.
These are the views of Dr Faisal, who is known in the southern Punjab as a crusader against this disease. He goes from village to village, giving lectures at schools, colleges and community gatherings on how to prevent this disease and how to stay healthy.
Pakistan is the second country with the highest number of hepatitis patients. Old surveys reported ten million patients of this one of the five most dangerious killers of the world. Over seventy percent of them, or seven million of these patients, are only in Punjab.
There are some areas where thirty to forty percent of populations are infected and the diseases is spreading like wild fire.
In Punjab, southern Punjab is considered the most unaware, and uneducated part with the most neglected of healthcare facilities. Now the Punjab government has woken up to the ugly reality of this killer and set up Pakistan Kidney and Lever Institute and Research Centre (PKLI & RC) in Lahore. Under this project, Hepatitis Prevention and Treatment Centres are being set up in all districts of the province.
Dr Faisal is the supervisor of these centres in nine districts of southeren Punjab, being assistant director of the project. These districts include Muzaffargarh, Liya, Rajanpur, Khanewal, and Lodhan.
He told The News that so far he has educated fifty thousand people directly, most of them school and college students. He believes that if youths and children are educated, the future generation of potential patients is saved and half the battle won.
He said he uses local and national media for awareness purposes but a lot is left to be desired. He is young, ambitious and energetic. Himself a doctor, he has so far launched the clinics in three districts of southern Punjab and it is his target to launch clinics in all the nine districts before December 25.
Doctors and staff have been hired and he is relentlessly monitoring the process. He said two or three private hospitals do lever transplant in Pakistan at a very heavy cost, which is too much to bear for most of the population. In the PKLI&RC in Lahore, poor patients will be given treatment including the costly transplant of lever free of cost, which is no less than a game changer in the fight against hepatitis. Affluent patients will readily pay charges of their treatment at PKLI&RC, where state-of-the-art facilities will be available for all equally with no need to go abroad.
Dr Maleek Haider, medical officer at the hepatitis prevention clinic of Muzaffargarh, said people remain unaware of their disease until their lever starts malfunction. By that time, it is too late, he said. He said by creating awareness in society, fight against hepatitis can be won.
He said situation goes from bad to worse when hepatitis a breadwinner of a family is infected, which is common in most cases, and loses hope to fight hepatitis. The whole family suffers then, he said. Hepatitis B and C are chronic diseases that can lead to lever cancer, while A, D and E are its milder forms.