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LAHORE, Nov 28: The provincial capital witnessed on Thursday many activities, including seminars, workshops and walks, to curb hepatitis C on the Second Annual Pakistan Hepatitis C Awareness Day.

The University of Health Sciences, King Edward Medical University, Shaikh Zayed Hospital and Shalamar Hospital were the prominent among others which organised the events.

Speakers at a public awareness seminar on hepatitis C at the UHS said the government could not control hepatitis C virus if the reuse and misuse of syringes continued.

Gujranwala Medical College Principal Aftab Moshin said that out of the country’s about 200 million population, an estimated 16 to 148 million were infected with various forms of hepatitis.

“Pakistan has the highest number of patients with chronic liver disease in the world,” said Prof Mohsin, also the former national programme manager of the Prime Minister’s Programme

for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis which had been devolved to the provinces. He said all evidence of the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) pointed to the use of nonsterile syringes in Pakistan.

“Annually, an estimated 16 billion therapeutic injections are administered to patients the world over out of which 800 to 900 million are administered in Pakistan only,” Prof Mohsin said, adding that nine out of 10 injections administered in the country were unnecessary.

Pakistan Society of Gastroenterology president and professor of medicine at Allama Iqbal Medical College Arif Siddiqui pointed out that coupled with poverty and illiteracy, other reasons for the spread of the disease, also known as a silent epidemic, were use of nonsterile razors and dental instruments by roadside barbers and dentists and contaminated blood transfusions.

He added that the risk of infection could be reduced by taking precautionary measures and creating awareness among the masses.