Preparation of Hepatitis C control plan in final phase 140m people, between 12 to 80 years, to be screened under programme


The Prime Minister’s programme to control high prevalence of Hepatitis C virus, has been in its final phase of preparation, sources said.
The government will launch a comprehensive programme for the testing, treatment and elimination of e Hepatitis C.
The government has sent Rs70 billion PC-I to the Planning Commission for final approval, according to sources.
Punjab will get 51 percent of the allocation, which will be around Rs37 billion. According to reports, the prevalence of the virus has doubled among Pakistanis in the past ten years, affecting more than 10 percent of the population.
Hepatitis C is considered a national public health emergency in Pakistan and that’s why a comprehensive programme is being launched at the federal level to combat the virus, said the sources.
Under the Prime Minister’s programme 140 million people, between 12 to 80 years, will be screened.
In Punjab 80 million people will be screened for Hepatitis C virus with teams visiting home to home, like the anti-polio programme in the country. In case of positive test the patients will be provided free PCR test and medicines.
A survey report indicates 8.9 percent prevalence of Hepatitis C virus in Punjab’s population, while the prevalence rate of the virus in Pakistan has been seven percent.
The data shows, that in Pakistan about 15 million out of 210 million population will likely to found positive, sources said.
Globally Pakistan has the highest prevalence of Hepatitis C following the Egypt, sources said.
Common mode of transmission for Hepatitis B, C and D includes improperly screened blood transfusion or blood products, improperly sterilized invasive medical devises, unsafe injections and unsafe sex.
Hepatitis leads to severe complications such as liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and early mortality.
It is pertinent to mention here that two Americans Harvey Alter and Charles Rice with Briton Michael Houghton won the Nobel Medicine Prize this year for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, the Nobel jury said.
The three were honoured for their “decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world,” the jury said.
The World Health Organization estimates there to be around 70 million Hepatitis C infections globally, causing around 400,000 deaths each year.
Their discovery also allowed the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at Hepatitis C.
“For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus from the world population,” the jury said.

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