Task force formed to combat hepatitis
ISLAMABAD: A task force has been established in North West Frontier Province as part of a province-wide campaign to combat rapidly spreading hepatitis, an official said on Wednesday.
“It is a one week campaign with different components, including seminars, workshops, display posters and walks to create awareness. The NWFP is the first region in Pakistan to launch such a campaign,” Provincial Health Secretary,
Dr Ihsan-Ul-Haq, said from Peshawar. He added that the federal government is working on a similar idea for the whole country. A private pharmaceutical company has pledged to provide discounted vaccines, he said.
“Cases of hepatitis C have risen dramatically, making it twice as prevalent as hepatitis B, “said the chairman of the hepatitis task force in Peshawar, Dr Najibul Haq.
“The main objective of the campaign is to increase awareness in people about the simple ways to avoid hepatitis. We are targeting different groups to spread the message,” he said, noting that the task force is also working on legislation with the government in respect to preventative measures.
All the districts in NWFP were involved. The three main components of the campaign were intended to raise awareness among health workers, to hold public meetings in hospitals and arrange walks, Najibul Haq said. He added that his task force wanted to see the activities continue even after the campaign ended.
He said the campaign should involve local religious and community leaders, members of parliament, heads of local government, councillors and health workers.
At present, 18 percent of all patients admitted to general wards in hospitals in the NWFP suffer from some type of hepatitis, the chief of NWFP government’s Health Sector, Research and Reform Unit, Dr Mohammed Rafiq, said. “There are nine million hepatitis B carriers in Pakistan. —IRIN