MKRMS seminar: Early diagnosis, timely treatment key to saving lives from hepatitis

July 29, 2021

LAHORE: Veteran doctors and physicians speaking at a seminar warned against the fast growing cases of hepatitis in the country which, statistics say, was taking a life every fifteen minutes.Early...

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LAHORE: Veteran doctors and physicians speaking at a seminar warned against the fast growing cases of hepatitis in the country which, statistics say, was taking a life every fifteen minutes.

Early diagnosis is extremely vital for timely treatment and saving lives, they said while addressing the seminar titled ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ under the aegis of Mir Khalilur Rehman Memorial Society (MKRMS) and Pakistan Society for Liver Diseases (PSLD) in connection with World Hepatitis Day.

The speakers included Dr Zaigham Abbas, Head Department of Gastroenterology Ziauddin University Karachi, Dr Fakhar Ali Areser, Dow University Hospital Karachi, Dr Nasir Hasan Lak, Consultant Gastroenterologist SIUT, Dr Fahim Abbas, Prof and Head Department of Liver and Stomach Diseases Ziauddin University and president Pakistan Society for Study of Liver Diseases Dr Amna Subhan and Fakhar Qazi.

Dr Zaigham Abbas said COVID-19 pandemic badly affected the efforts to counter hepatitis and despite that its death rate was much higher than COVID-19 in the country. He said hepatitis could not wait for the elimination of COVID-19 and said that large-scale measures were needed to promote the efforts to identify and locate the undiagnosed patients of hepatitis and start their treatment.

He said nearly 325 million people in the world were suffering from hepatitis B or C but of them, 290 million were unaware that they were facing hepatitis. Only 10 percent of Hepatitis B patients and 19 percent of Hepatitis C patients were aware of their ailment. He said in 1919, WHO prepared a plan to eliminate Hepatitis B and C, adding that for achieving its objectives the diagnosis of 90 per cent patients was necessary. He said the plan called for treatment of at least 80 percent of patients by 2030 which could reduce new infections by 90 per cent and deaths by 65 per cent.

He said in Pakistan nearly 7.17 million people were suffering from hepatitis, of them 2.5 per cent were infected with B and a huge 48 per cent with C which unfortunately was the second highest number of C patients in the world. He said only 23 percent of patients in the country knew about their ailment and only 3 per cent were getting treatment. He said nearly 800,000 people in the country were suffering from the worst kind of Hepatitis D which causes liver cancer and CIRAHOSIS disease. He said the main factors of spreading hepatitis included unsafe blood transfusion, treatment with syringes and drip, unsterilised medical instruments, quackery, undisposable razors of barbers and unsafe sexual relations etc. He said as per average every person in the country received 10 injections of which nine were unnecessary.

Dr Fakhar Ali Areser said hepatitis silently affected and damaged the liver before it was detected, causing a number of deadly diseases like cancer, CIRAHOSIS etc. He said all countrymen should test themselves for the diseases at least once in view of the fast growing cases. He said now the hepatitis treatment was easier due to advance methods through 3 to 6 capsules daily for six months. He said the chronic patients facing cancer or its threats also have the option of liver transplant, a facility available at Dow University Hospital, Shifa Hospital and other institutions.

Dr Nasir Hasan Lak said contaminated water and food, unwashed hands etc were the main causes of hepatitis. He said in case of acute Hepatitis A and E, no specific treatment was offered and usually patients feel better within four to six weeks. He said clean water and food and clean hands and body could help a lot in preventing the disease besides getting preventive vaccines. He said vaccines for Hepatitis A and E were available in the country.

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