Hepatitis C: Pakistan ranked 2nd in world


KARACHI: Hepatitis is one of the major killing diseases in Pakistan and every fourth person has the exposure to it in Pakistan. Presently, there are about four million patients of hepatitis B and C in Sindh province, and most of them develop liver cirrhosis, which damages liver permanently. Pakistan is among the top five countries having major burden of liver diseases.

This was stated by the participants at an awareness seminar entitled “Prevalence, Treatment and Prevention of Hepatitis”, organized by Health and Environment Committee of Karachi Press Club, here on Tuesday at KPC Hall to mark the World Hepatitis Day.

Addressing the participants, Associate Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology of Darul Sehat Hospital Karachi, Dr Shahid Ahmed, said hepatitis B and C are viral diseases which damage the liver. “Both are major causes of liver diseases worldwide. A person may become infected with hepatitis B and C if he or she receives blood with hepatitis virus.”

He said hepatitis B and C are found everywhere in the world, and the countries showing highest rate of this disease are Egypt, Pakistan and China. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can lead to chronic liver diseases with severe complications.

Ahmed said about 60 to 70 percent liver cancer cases are attributed to HCV infection which is one of the major causes of the cancer and the fifth most cancer in the world. As per World Health Organization (WHO) report, Pakistan is ranked second in the world having high prevalence of hepatitis C and there are approximately four million people suffering from hepatitis C alone, he informed.

Awakening about the signs and symptoms of hepatitis C infection, Assistant Professor of Liaquat National Hospital Dr Sajjad Jameel said fatigue, vomiting, yellow coloration of skin and eyes, pain in abdomen, bright collared stools, dark collared urine, pain in joints, depression, and tiredness are most common symptoms of hepatitis.

However, diagnosis cannot be made merely on the basis of symptoms, as blood test is required for confirmation of this disease. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent HCV infection in the world.

He said hepatitis B and C can be transferred from one individual to another. He said before transfusion of blood to any one, screening of blood must be conducted in a quality assured manner with subsequent standardized protocols.

Jameel while giving the references of WHO, said China has produced and licensed the first vaccine to prevent hepatitis E virus, but it is not yet available globally.