Unsafe injection practices lead to hepatitis

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World Hepatitis Day is marked by the World Health Organization on July 28th as a public health issue of priority.

The theme this year is “I Can’t Wait” to highlight the importance of testing and treatment for the people who need it because every 30 seconds, someone dies due to a hepatitis-related illness.

Pakistan has one of the highest rates of hepatitis B & C in the region, and a large number of people suffering from chronic hepatitis remain unaware of their diagnosis. If left untreated, chronic hepatitis can progress to an irreversible stage of advanced liver disease and may lead to liver cancer, liver failure, or even death.

On this occasion, Dr Muhammed Aasim Yusuf, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Chief Medical Officer from Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), Lahore emphasised that while hepatitis A, B, C, D and E can cause serious liver disease, it is important to understand that they have different modes of transmission and require different means of prevention.

While hepatitis A and E can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, Hepatitis B, C and D are transmitted through infected blood and body fluids.

Health experts advise avoiding unsafe injection practices, using un-screened blood for transfusions, and unsterilized equipment for dental or surgical procedures for prevention of hepatitis B and C. A vaccine is available for hepatitis B, which makes possible to control new cases. On the other hand, no vaccine is available for hepatitis C, which means that prevention is better than cure.

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