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Govt launches two more projects to curb hepatitis
LAHORE: A week after inauguration of the Hepatitis Treatment and Prevention Clinic in the provincial capital, the Punjab government has introduced two more schemes: replacement of old syringes with auto-disposable ones at state-run hospitals of the province, and a hepatitis bill.
The government has allocated initial funds of Rs400 million for the purchase of non-reusable syringes for all 36 district hospitals from international manufacturers for 2017.
These initiatives were being taken to curb prevalence of hepatitis C under a mega project -- Hepatitis-free Punjab by 2030, a senior official privy to the information told Dawn.
Auto-disposable syringes, law to be introduced
He said inauguration of what was being claimed as the first hepatitis treatment filter clinic of the country by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at Pakistan Kidney and Liver Transplant Institute and Research Centre on March 20 was part of the same project.
Introduction of the hepatitis bill and auto-disposable syringes would support the clinic that had been made functional by nationally and internationally acclaimed medics.
The official said this was for the first time that the Punjab government had shifted its focus to prevention of the fatal hepatitis disease besides allocating funds on curative sides. Some fresh statistics say that Pakistan has the second highest prevalence of hepatitis C in the world.
Reports say 5pc of the total population of Pakistan is living with hepatitis C and the impact of the disease is increasing alarmingly.
“Since multiple uses of syringes has been the main source of massive transmission (62pc of hepatitis C transmission), the provincial government has decided to replace 50pc of the syringes used in public sector hospitals of all 36 districts with non-reusable ones,” the official said.
By next year, he said, 90pc of the syringes will be replaced and a task to this effect had been assigned to the Primary and Secondary Health Department. He further said the hepatitis treatment clinic would help tackle the outbreak or counter further spread of the disease. The clinic was well-equipped and resourced with trained liver specialists from leading institutes of the US, UK and Pakistan.
“The advanced techniques of Fibroscan and Electronic Medical Records have been integrated into this project,” the official added.
He said Fibroscan is a test that can reveal any fibrosis or fatty deposits within the liver. It is a non-invasive, quick and simple test that is conducted using ultrasound and gives an immediate result.
The government aims to replicate the treatment and prevention clinic across all 36 districts of Punjab by December to provide standard curative care in remotest areas. This plan also includes development of a Command and Control Centre for sharing real-time patient data, specialists’ follow-up and risk factors identification of spread of the disease. These clinics are designed to reduce both incidence of liver cancer and failure by 10pc.
About the hepatitis bill, the official said a set of documents was almost complete for legislation through the assembly.
“To ensure compliance with this initiative in private sector hospitals and clinics also, the bill will be promulgated to levy strict penalties in case of contravention,” he added.
This bill will also allow the government to crack down on barbers, salons and quacks found violating the established rules. He said these efforts will be complemented by the government’s initiative to develop comprehensive waste management solutions in both public and private sector hospitals.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2017