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SIUT organizes awareness program to mark ‘World Hepatitis Day’

KARACHI: World Hepatitis Day is being observed throughout the world including Pakistan today (July 28). Its purpose is to raise awareness about viral hepatitis. To mark this day, a comprehensive program was organized at SIUT (Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation). This year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t-Wait”, with a strategy calling for the eradication of hepatitis C by the year 2030.

Globally 2 billion people have been infected with hepatitis B virus with approximately 1.5 million people becoming newly infected each year and almost 300 million people are chronically infected. Around 58 million have chronic hepatitis C infection with about 1.5 million new infections occurring annually. An estimated 3.2 million adolescents and children have been affected with chronic hepatitis C globally.

71 million people suffer from hepatitis C in Pakistan. Each year brings about 150,000 new cases. The majority of people catch this infection in health care settings without knowledge. The disease is called a silent killer because many patients remain undiagnosed and untreated for many years before developing complications. More than 12,000 Hepatitis B virus-related deaths were reported in 2019 while hepatitis C-related deaths were over 17,000 in Pakistan and the number of deaths has increased to more than 9% in hepatitis B and 5% in hepatitis C cases.

Considering the importance of the increase in the number of cases of hepatitis A & E, the medical experts guided the visitors about its incubation period which is 4-6 weeks for hepatitis A and 6-8 weeks for hepatitis E. They further explained, the usage of boiled water, after using the washroom and before and after eating food. It was emphasized to get vaccinated against hepatitis A & E.

Highlighting hepatitis B & C, emphasis was made on routine screening during blood donation, using new syringes, razor blades, and sterilized dental and surgical equipment for any procedure. In the case of acute hepatitis B, presenting with liver failure the patient requires to go through an organ transplant while in the case of chronic hepatitis B, medications are prescribed for its treatment however in some cases the patient requires a liver transplant. However, about hepatitis C, they emphasized the use of direct oral antiviral agents which is the recommended treatment.

The need for hepatitis B vaccine among high-risk groups with strong family history, immunocompromised patients, diabetic, travelers, hemodialysis patients, and those who have unsafe sexual practices was stressed. The target is to vaccinate more than 90 percent of newborns against Hepatitis B to decrease the incidence of this type of hepatitis in the community.

The medical experts pointed out that patients suffering from hepatitis B and C if left untreated can lead to liver cancer.

A large number of the public was witnessed who visited the Institute to avail free testing and diagnostic facilities offered as a part of creating awareness and educating the public at large.  Visiting persons were shown videos and provided literature about measures as to how to combat hepatitis.

SIUT’s doctors and medical experts representing various departments extended their services to educate the masses.

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