Hepatitis test recommended for CNICs applicants

Growing prevalence of blood borne Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the country demands mandatory screening of all citizens seeking Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), said experts addressing a session organised by Pakistan Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases Society.
Leading gastroenterologists and hematologists from across the country said severity of the communicable disease that can also be fatal if not treated in time makes necessary that “Hepatitis Screening Certificate” is made a mandatory condition at the time of issuance of CNICs to the citizens.
Dr Lubna Kamanai, known gastroenterologist associated with Liaqut National Hospital, said the intervention would help to ascertain the actual number of patients infected with viral hepatitis in the country.
She also proposed provision for free of charge screening of Hepatitis B and C across the country so that people could know about their disease status.
“In most of the cases, people are found not to be aware of their being infected with deadly viral disease till they become chronic patients,” said Dr Kamanai also the Vice President of PGLDS.
Dr. Shahid Ahmed, consultant Gastroenterologist and Patron of the Society said, according to available estimates, around 20 million people in Pakistan are infected with Hepatitis B and C, which amounts to 10 percent of the total population.
Unfortunately the ratio of people with viral hepatitis is higher in Sindh, he said mentioning that every fifth person in Sindh is reportedly dying due to viral Hepatitis.
Acknowledging the fact that there exists no registry to verify the estimates on scientific lines, he agreed that there was urgency for mandatory screening of people to help evolve an efficient prevention oriented strategy in accordance to actual number of hepatitis B and/or C carriers.
Dr Shahid on basis of isolated studies conducted by the members of PGLDS said 20 to 25 percent population in Sindh may be infected with the deadly viral disease.
In some areas of the province including Gadap and Kathore near Karachi and also certain other coastal areas of Sindh the estimated incidence rate of the viral infection was said to be around 30 to 35 percent—APP

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