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KARACHI, Aug 7: The Sindh health department will start vaccinating all children aged between five and 15 years and enrolled at government and private schools across the province in September, authorities told on Tuesday.

Moreover, under the hepatitis prevention and control programme of the Sindh government, which has been extended for three years, 40 hepatitis treatment centres would be set up at the taluka level.

The Sindh government had spent Rs2.446 billion on the programme called the CM initiative for hepatitis control from the financial year 2008-09 to 2010-11, while it has approved another PC-1 for the extension of the programme till 2013-14 at a cost of Rs3.516 billion under the annual development programme.

Under the initiative, over 1,135,000 people were screened and vaccinated against hepatitis across the province.

Of them, 80,997 patients of hepatitis C, 9,398 of hepatitis B and 2,003 patients of hepatitis D were registered with 40 centres for free treatment.

About 43,370 patients of hepatitis C, 3,810 of hepatitis B and 972 patients of hepatitis D had completed their treatment by the end of June 2011, while many other registered patients were under treatment.

The manager of the CM hepatitis programme, Dr Abdul Majeed Chhutto, said efforts were on to vaccinate all schoolchildren aged between five and 15 years in both government and private schools during the current financial year.

The CM hepatitis control programme has already contacted the Sindh education department for the vaccination of the students and it is likely that vaccinators would start visiting the schools across the province after Ramazan, he said.

According to him, about 4.8 million students needing the preventive hepatitis B vaccines belonged to government schools, while two million to three million more would be vaccinated at private schools, largely in Karachi.

About 735,000 schoolchildren were given hepatitis B vaccines under the CM programme in various districts of Sindh till June 2011, Dr Chhutto said.

He added that in addition to the 43 established sentinel sites, which included tertiary, district and some taluka hospitals, about 40 new sentinel sites would be set up and provided with necessary staff in all taluka hospitals and a few rural health centres in the next three years, for which money would be handed over to the programme shortly.

He said two PCR molecular laboratories were established in the first three years of the programme at the Civil Hospital in Mirpurkhas and the CMC Hospital in Larkana, while another PCR laboratory was being set up in Sukkur. “We have earmarked an amount of Rs20 million for raising public awareness through television and radio during 2011-12,” he said.

According to a report prepared by the CM hepatitis control programme, a maximum 6,902 patients were treated for hep C in Karachi, followed by 6,518 in Hyderabad and 4,228 in Sanghar.

On the other hand, 289 patients were treated for hep-D at Khairpur, 262 at Sanghar and 170 at Kambar.