Public-private partnership urged to eradicate Hepatitis-C

Zubair Qureshi

Pakistan has the second-highest burden of hepatitis-C globally with one of the world’s highest HCV-related deaths yearly.

It is estimated that during the peak of the Covid pandemic in Pakistan, hepatitis killed three to four times more people than Covid-19.

Health professionals and experts expressed these views while participating in a dialogue organized by Roche Diagnostics Pakistan on “Hepatitis Elimination” at the Marriott Hotel.

The high-profile event was attended by dignitaries, leading clinicians, government personnel, Ministry of Health and the media.

Distinguished experts from Pakistan, USA and APAC exchanged diverse experiences and shared best practices to provoke conversations to help accelerate Pakistan’s hepatitis elimination response.

It was underlined that Pakistan lost around 24,000 people yearly to complications from hepatitis C such as chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common type of liver cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 90% of people with HCV can be completely cured within 3 to 6 months.

Due to the asymptomatic nature of the infection, many HCV carriers do not have any symptoms until the liver damage becomes very serious without proper access to diagnostics and treatment.

Abdul Qayyum, Country Manager – of the Roche Diagnostics Pakistan & Afghanistan said the Roche was committed to supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate hepatitis by 2030 by working with key stakeholders to transform the healthcare system for better disease monitoring and health outcomes – for patients and society.

However, addressing the root of the problem and fast-tracking hepatitis C elimination efforts in Pakistan requires a long-term vision and government support.

Abdul Qayyum said, “Roche Diagnostics Pakistan is actively working with key public and private stakeholders to improve the ways diagnostics are delivered and achieve the global infectious disease elimination goals. We are committed to ensuring a hepatitis-free Pakistan by enabling sustainable access to world-class diagnostics for the people – no matter where they live in Pakistan.”

Dr Huma Qureshi, National Focal Person on Viral Hepatitis said, “Pakistan is the source of hepatitis in 9.8 million people. Nearly 25,000 people pass away as a result of the illness. Only 22% have received an HCV diagnosis. Pakistan lacks the necessary funds to completely eradicate the disease, thus we have been struggling.