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About 15m Pakistanis suffering from hepatitis
Monday, May 19, 2014 - Islamabad-19th May is the world hepatitis testing day. The reason this day is being observed is because 50% people, even in developed countries, are not aware of that they are suffering from hepatitis. The delay in diagnosis leads to the development of serious complications and once end stage of disease is reached; the only treatment option available to the patient is liver transplant. This was stated by Prof. Dr. Muzaffar latif Gill, a prominent specialists while talking to Pakistan observer.
He said, in Pakistan, we are dealing with a huge pool of chronic hepatitis patients. Around 15 million Pakistani population is suffering from this menace. Because of lack of awareness, poor diagnostic facilities and not uniform availability of standard of care treatment, we have pool of patients with end stage liver disease. The only option for these patients is liver transplant. The facility for liver transplant in Pakistan, in both government and private sectors, is currently in infancy.
Gill said, unfortunately in our country, standard of care treatment which is by means of pegylated interferon and ribavirin is only available to a very fortunate few. Poor quality treatment offered to the patient leads to poor outcome and worsening of liver disease. The government and civil society should pay heed to this menace and every hepatitis patient should get the best international standard of treatment.
He said, there is a lot of publicity in print media about this new drug, namely sofosbuvir( sovaldi ) ,for treatment of chronic hepatitis C .There are claims and counter claims which is causing confusion in public. This drug will now be available in Pakistan in mid June. It is being provided by joint collaboration with the American company Gilead and the Pakistani company Ferozsons. With their joint efforts, the cost of entire treatment in Pakistan will be 300,000 (Three lacs) Pakistan rupees [$3000], in stark comparison to the $86,000 cost in the US. I must commend/appreciate Ferozsons Pakistan for their stellar contributions in this regard. We have to be very careful offering this treatment to our patients. Patients who are already treated with Pegylated interferon and Ribavirin and have virus again cure rate is at best 70% with combination of this new drug Sovaldi and Ribavirin.
Prof Gill said: Message on this day is get yourself tested for Hepatitis, know your problem, get in touch with appropriately trained doctor to get best treatment available .We as a nation need to work together, especially the health care providers , to get rid of this menace from our country. Doctors and hospitals should be very conscientious, devoted and dedicated to provide state of the art treatment to these patients. Today on 19th may, we the doctors as well as the civil society have a huge responsibility to tackle this menace with missionary zeal. In our respective communities we need to test people for hepatitis B and C , timely diagnose them and treat them with the international standard of care treatment.
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