Rawalpindi : With the vision of eliminating hepatitis by 2030, Rawalpindi Medical University along with Centre for Liver and Digestive Diseases, Holy Family Hospital has launched a “Hepatitis free Rawalpindi” Programme which is the first programme of its kind and a step forward towards elimination of hepatitis from Pakistan.
Under the guidance of Vice Chancellor at RMU Professor Dr. Muhammad Umar, the RMU and CLD has initiated a community based program some two months back for screening, diagnoses and treatment of hepatitis C cases in Rawalpindi city. Under the program, union council wise screening to find the missing cases of hepatitis has been started and the 4th successful camp is being organised in this regard in Union Council - 1, Ratta Amral Rawalpindi.
The RMU and CLD started working on elimination of hepatitis to take forward the target set by World Health Organization of elimination of hepatitis from the world by 2030. Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap to be addressed in order to achieve the global elimination goals by 2030, said Dr. Umar while talking to ‘The News’ on Friday in connection with World Hepatitis Day being observed on July 28 around the globe.
He said in the first phase of the program launched by RMU and CLD, as many as 944203 people would be screened and all positive patients will be treated free of cost. So far, in two months, more than 3000 people have been screened and more than 100 patients have now been put on treatment at CLD, he said. He believes that programs like the one being followed are required throughout the country to eliminate hepatitis by 2030.
It is important that 257 million people are living with hepatitis B and 71 million are living with hepatitis C and Pakistan being number two in the world with HCV viremic prevalence of 5.8 per cent shares a major disease burden. In 2016, the WHO launched a global campaign to eliminate hepatitis from the world by 2030.
To mark World Hepatitis Day, the RMU launched Hepatitis Free Rawalpindi City Program and started carrying out activities in May this year following the theme “Find the Missing Millions”. Nine out of every 10 people living with viral hepatitis are unaware that they are infected with the disease that makes more than 290 million patients missing across the globe.
The RMU organized the World Hepatitis Day celebrations in collaboration with CLD, Society for Therapeutic Endoscopy Pakistan (STEP), Pakistan Society of Hepatology (PSH), Department of Community Medicine & Preventive Health, Department of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology and Shifa4u which is an American Tele Physicians Project in Pakistan along with MAS and VFAHT which are the student societies of RMU.
On Friday, the organizers held an awareness walk in the premises of Holy Family Hospital. Before the walk, Professor Umar delivered an awareness lecture highlighting the theme, “Find the Missing Millions”.
The awareness walk was organized starting from Rawalpindi Medical College and ending at administrative block of HFH. Doctors from different specialties, medical students, paramedical staff and patients participated in the walk. The participants were holding banners carrying the slogan “Find the Missing millions” while informative brochures and booklets highlighting importance of preventive measures and screening in local language were distributed.
Large banners with similar information were also displayed in all the three teaching hospitals of Rawalpindi. We have planned to create awareness among public on importance of screening and treatment of hepatitis through print, social and electronic media as part of Hepatitis Free Rawalpindi City Program, said Dr. Umar.
After the awareness walk, a free screening and vaccination camp was also organized in which 500 people were screened for hepatitis and 100 people were provided vaccination for hepatitis B.
“I hope the model framed and being followed by RMU to make Rawalpindi free from hepatitis can work at both the federal and the provincial levels with the help of federal and provincial governments,” said Dr. Umar.