Sindh needs taskforce to check onslaught of hepatitis

RATODERO: There is no respite in the onslaught of hepatitis in Sindh, as the international community is observing the World Hepatitis Day on July 28, 2013. According to experts Hepatitis is more dangerous than HIV/AIDS. In upper Sindh cases of hepatitis are on a constant rise. The government has set up a sentinel site at the Chandka Medical College Hospital, Larkana and as many as 4082 hepatitis positive patients are registered with it, out of them2937 have completed their treatment.

Out of 4082 registered patients, 3210 people are suffering from HCV, 650 from HBV and 312 from HDV. These patients belong to various districts of lower Sindh including Ghotki, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Kambar-Shahdadkot & Larkana districts. They include also patients from Naushehro Feroze, Bhirya & Dadu besides various male/female prisoners of jails in these areas.

The Hepatitis Control Programme (Chief Minister’s Initiative) was started in Sindh province at the end of 2008 after Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) won the elections. Before that Prime Minister’s program was going on for the treatment of the poor hepatitis patient which was started in 2006.

Hepatic OPD of the CMC Hospital did register 196 HCV patients, 55 of HBV and 17 of HDV during the month of June 2013. At present 355 HCV patients are under treatment, 161 of HBV and 111 of HDV are also getting treatment at this sentinel site.

The hospital sources said 2385 HCV patients have completed their treatment along with 375 of HBV and 177 of HDV. Likewise 303 HCV patients have so far defaulted along with 73 of HBV and 20 of HDV and their fate is unknown. PCR test facility was provided for the benefit of the Hepatitis positive patients of upper Sindh on 07th December 2009 and since then it is going on with non-provision of essential material which has created lot of problems for the management of the programme.

Two vaccination/screening camps were also organized by this site each at Bhains Colony and Ladies Jail in Larkana, where 192 persons were screened and 179 were vaccinated. Out of screened persons 10 were detected as suffering from HCV and 3 from HBS.

Before provision of PCR machine at CMCH, all the blood samples of these districts were monthly sent to LUMS Jamshoro for testing.

This treatment centre has not been provided essential equipment/instruments to the working staff which include laboratory centrifuge, water bath, hot air oven, laboratory refrigerator, blood collection tubes Pipette stand, torpedoes, centrifuge tubes, disposable Pasteur pipe, pipette aid, & multichannel, yellow tips, gloves, needle cutters, test tube racks, beakers, total protection kits, generator and water filters. This shows the lack of interest of the rulers to run this program effectively. Supply of treatment injections Interferon and other drugs have not been received at this site since last over four months, sources disclosed, due to which new patients are not being registered.

The prevention of this dreaded and deadly disease is the job of District Health Officers posted throughout Sindh; however, no serious steps were taken in past to prevent this killer disease. There seems nobody to ask these DHOs as to what they did for preventing this disease in their respective districts.

Health experts have already warned that this disease is may become epidemic if the government failed to handle it promptly and on emergency basis.

The medical community and organizations of doctors are demanding from the Sindh government of PPP to start serious efforts for eliminating the disease on war-footing. DHOs may also be directed through Director General Health Services, Sindh, to initiate preventive measures forthwith.

In this regard, Supreme Court Advocate and former Sindh High Court Bar Association Larkana chapter president, Inayatullah Morio has suggested that a taskforce may be constituted on provincial level for providing treatment to the affected populace free of cost and adopting all preventive measures which should be led by the DGHSS, Hyderabad, and he should be given the task to for an in-depth study and submit detailed report to the government for urgent actions.

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