FOR a country already struggling against a variety of daunting challenges, the monster of infectious diseases, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), is not only posing a formidable health challenge to society, but also consuming a major chunk of national economy in terms of costly medical treatment.

Since the global focus has long shifted from curative medicine to preventive medicine, it is the crying need of the day that those occupying the seats of power should realise the gravity of the problem and respond appropriately before it gets too late.

Being a health professional, I have seen people suffering from these diseases in profound and perennial agony. Spreading exponentially, prevalence has gone up, setting the alarm bells ringing.

It is widely believed that hepatitis is only a waterborne disease, whereas the fact is that contaminated water and food cause other types of hepatitis, like hepatitis A and E, but not hepatitis B and C, commonly called the kaali yarqaan.

The chief sources of spread, however, are unprotected and careless physical relations, reusing of disposable syringes by quacks, using single blade for different customers by the barbers, and using un-sterilised tools by unauthorised dentists.

Contrary to the common belief, complete sterilisation cannot be achieved by simply placing the instruments in boiling water. It requires the use of autoclave machine.

The government must declare this issue a national emergency and deal with it on a war footing to minimise further spread of this disease. Launching awareness programmes aimed at the masses, and ensuring proper registration of health professionals and barbers must be ensured to halt the ongoing deterioration in the health system.

Dr Faisal Gorchani

Dera Ghazi Khan

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021

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