LOCAL NEWS


WORLD HEPATITIS DAY SEMINAR - 2020

'' DAY DREAMING A HEPATITIS-FREE FUTURE ''


Daydreaming a Hepatitis-free Future The Health Foundation (THF) was amongst a large cohort of organizations in Pakistan who engaged the public in awareness sessions in cyberspace as the World Health Organization (WHO) organized Hepatitis Day across the globe. COVID-19 has brought to the fore the huge utility and application of cyberspace in every sphere of human life, and made redundant the need for physical assembly. In a Zoom meeting attended by a good number of people whose numbers would swell exponentially as the proceedings got posted on Facebook and other social media, subject specialists and THF Trustees Dr. Huma Qureshi T.I. (Consultant Gastroenterologist & focal person for the GoP’s Hepatitis program), Dr. Naseem Salahuddin (Head of Infectious Diseases, Indus Hospital, Karachi) and Dr. Saad Niaz T.I. (Consultant Gastroenterologist & Director of Endoscopy at Surgical Unit 4, Civil Hospital, Karachi) brought to the table their considerable experience and laid bare the problem that continues to confound the country and indeed the world.

Daydreaming a Hepatitis-free Future The Health Foundation (THF) was amongst a large cohort of organizations in Pakistan who engaged the public in awareness sessions in cyberspace as the World Health Organization (WHO) organized Hepatitis Day across the globe. COVID-19 has brought to the fore the huge utility and application of cyberspace in every sphere of human life, and made redundant the need for physical assembly. In a Zoom meeting attended by a good number of people whose numbers would swell exponentially as the proceedings got posted on Facebook and other social media, subject specialists and THF Trustees Dr. Huma Qureshi T.I. (Consultant Gastroenterologist & focal person for the GoP’s Hepatitis program), Dr. Naseem Salahuddin (Head of Infectious Diseases, Indus Hospital, Karachi) and Dr. Saad Niaz T.I. (Consultant Gastroenterologist & Director of Endoscopy at Surgical Unit 4, Civil Hospital, Karachi) brought to the table their considerable experience and laid bare the problem that continues to confound the country and indeed the world. Dr. Huma Qureshi, quoting statistics from a 2008 survey, said that Pakistan has 4 million Hepatitis B patients and 8 million Hepatitis C patients, making for a grand total of 12 million that put Pakistan at the #2 position in the world, second only to China. A 2018 survey in the Punjab showed a decline in Hepatitis B but an alarming increase in Hepatitis C.

The Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) procured 9 childhood vaccines for all the 4 million children born in Pakistan every year and supplied them free of cost to EPI centers located across the government healthcare network as well as private sector pediatricians and hospitals who want to partner with the EPI.

Dr. Huma Qureshi’s facts and figures were revealing of the negligible priority accorded to the healthcare sector and Hepatitis in particular. The EPI coverage that should be in excess of 98% was estimated at around 86%, and in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) of WHO comprising 22 countries, Pakistan has the highest percentage of unvaccinated children. 2.5 million children and adolescents in Pakistan, it is estimated, are already exposed to the Hepatitis B virus and shall remain Hepatitis B positive for life, with many developing chronic liver diseases in later life. It’s a depressing picture.

Dr. Naseem Salahuddin, head of infectious diseases, Indus Hospital added HIV Aids to Hepatitis B and C, saying they were transmitted through contaminated blood and even 0.004 micrograms of it was enough to start the infection. She held contaminated needles and syringes responsible, saying that Pakistanis in general were very partial to injections and often medical practitioners reuse needles. Elsewhere in the world the average person will take 1 to 2 injections per year, she said, whereas in Pakistan the number is 13!

Blood products were also contaminated with blood banks not screening properly. Dentists did not use sterilized equipment, and intravenous drug users like heroin addicts shared needles. Even ear and nose piercings were not entirely free from danger, and these diseases were also sexually transmitted, and could have an incubation period of up to 6 months.

Dr. Saad Niaz was with the good news, saying that both Hepatitis B&C are now treatable, with Hepatitis C enjoying a recovery rate of 98%. However, with Hepatitis B one had to live with it, like Diabetes, taking regular medication. Matters have improved radically in the last 10 years, he said, and there has been a paradigm shift in treatment from very painful with no guarantee to treatments that are cheap with minimal side effects and 98% cure. This has enabled hope about getting rid of Hepatitis C from society. For Hepatitis B the majority, as much as 95% of the patients, do not require treatment and manage to vanquish the virus on their own. 20 to 30% of Hepatitis C patients get cured naturally as well.

The Hepatitis C treatment that started with a $1000 tablet is now down to 7000 rupees for the entire 3 months course, with 2 tablets taken together every morning for 12 weeks. Thereafter the SVR test is done to ensure the virus has been ejected.

Civil society and patient groups across the globe are taking the lead in increasing efforts to find the undiagnosed and screening initiatives have taken place in almost every region of the world in a campaign to “Find the Missing Millions”.

The Health Foundation (THF) was established in 2007 as a non-profit Civil Society organization registered with SECP under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984. THF is also certified by PCP (Pakistan Center for Philanthropy). Socially responsible individuals from all walks of life have joined hands to contribute in bringing about some positive change in the lives of the poor and marginalized. The Health Foundation aims to create awareness and promote healthy practices for management of various diseases in the general public, with an initial focus on Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C making screening camps to find the “Missing Millions” a priority.

THF is accredited with the World Hepatitis Alliance (W.H.A), The Coalition for the Eradication of Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (CEVHAP), World Health Organization (W.H.O), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), CSO Alliance for Immunization in Pakistan (PCCHI), and the National Technical Advisory Group on Hepatitis Prevention and Control in Pakistan (TAG).





Global research database

WHO is gathering the latest international multilingual scientific findings and knowledge on COVID-19. The global literature cited in the WHO COVID-19 database is updated daily (Monday through Friday) from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searching, and the addition of other expert-referred scientific articles. This database represents a comprehensive multilingual source of current literature on the topic. While it may not be exhaustive, new research is added regularly.

As a trade fair with a B2B focus, IDS is fundamentally different to sporting events and public fairs and festivals – a fact we will continue to highlight in our communications with the public and political decision makers. The above-mentioned measures include appropriate hygiene, maintaining sufficient distance between people at all times, and strict guidelines for the processes carried out at entrances, in the halls and at the stands. We are relying on the professional conduct of exhibitors and visitors, we will carry out a full registration of participants, and we will utilise the flexibility and size of our site as well as the opportunities offered by our digital guidance systems.
Thanks to this package of measures, we can all look forward to a successful IDS 2021!



WHO - RESEARCHER WORKING ON COVID 19

WHO is bringing the world’s scientists and global health professionals together to accelerate the research and development process, and develop new norms and standards to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and help care for those affected.

The R&D Blueprint has been activated to accelerate diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus. The solidarity of all countries will be essential to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 health products.