ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to provide free of cost screening and treatment facility to hepatitis C patients in katchi abadis of the federal capital.
In the second phase, the facility would be available to all residents of the capital.
In this regard, Polyclinic’s dispensary in G-7/3 has been declared a model centre for the free treatment of infectious diseases.
Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani, while inaugurating the centre, on Saturday said around 10 million people in Pakistan were affected by hepatitis C.
“Hepatitis C is a huge problem and the government is making efforts to address it. In the first phase, we would provide facility of free of cost test and treatment to hepatitis C patients.”
Screening and treatment facility will be extended across capital in the second phase, minister says
Mr Kiani said in the second phase free screening and treatment of hepatitis C would be provided throughout the city.
It has been decided to hold door-to-door screening for hepatitis in the slums of the capital, he added.
“The patients would be registered so that they would be provided treatment even if they change their residences or shift to some other areas,” the minister said.
Besides, vaccination against hepatitis would also be carried out.
Screening for tuberculosis will be done as a machine has been installed at the model centre.
Mr Kiani alleged that successive governments ignored the health sector but PTI had included healthcare in its priorities.
The model centre will be dedicated for screening, testing and treatment of hepatitis C patients with integration of other infectious diseases such as TB, he added.
Teams will go door-to-door in the slum communities to screen high-risk individuals. Those found positive will be referred to the centre for confirmation of the disease and its treatment, he said.
“To curb the disease burden, we are implementing Hepatitis Prevention and Control Project for the capital city with incorporation of TB. The hepatitis C patients will be cured by providing them oral tablets for three months. These tablets have no side effects.”
He said hepatitis B vaccine would also be given to the patients being treated for hepatitis C. All tests, treatment and hepatitis B vaccination will be done free of cost.
Talking to media, the minister expressed the hope that his ministry would carry out a vigorous awareness campaign in the slums areas.
Pakistan has the second highest disease burden of hepatitis C in the world.
Inadequately screened blood transfusions, inappropriately sterilised medical/surgical/dental/gynecological instruments, sharing razors, shaving blades and toothbrushes are the most significant risk factors for the transmission of hepatitis C. If left untreated many people will develop life-threatening complications, including liver cancer.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019