Rising Above the Challenge:
World Hepatitis C Day in Pakistan
World Hepatitis Day is commemorated annually on July 28th, standing as one of only four disease-specific global awareness days officially endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This year, the spotlight is being cast on a significant health issue in Pakistan – Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection with the potential to severely impact the liver, leading to serious complications like cirrhosis and liver cancer if not appropriately treated. Despite the considerable strides made in Hepatitis C treatment, awareness regarding the disease continues to be notably low. As World Hepatitis C Day is marked, there is a concerted effort to shift this narrative within Pakistan.
Hepatitis C in Pakistan: A Silent Crisis
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. In its acute phase, it can present mild to severe symptoms or even none at all, while its chronic form, which can linger for many years undetected, can lead to serious liver damage including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-coloured stools, joint pain, and jaundice. Yet, it’s important to remember that many individuals do not experience symptoms until liver damage has occurred.
Risk factors for Hepatitis C include sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs, receiving unsafe injections, health care procedures, and transfusions, particularly before 1992 and in countries where Hepatitis C is common.
As we mark World Hepatitis C Day, we aim to enhance awareness about the disease, its risks, its symptoms, and the importance of getting tested and treated.
Indus Hospital & Health Network: Pioneering Progress Against Hepatitis C
Indus Hospital & Health Network (IHHN) is working relentlessly to combat Hepatitis C in Pakistan. Since 2017, the network has provided free Hepatitis C screening, treatment, and counseling to debunk the stigma and myths surrounding the disease. Their efforts have led to the treatment of over 16,000 patients and the screening of more than 278,000 people. It is noteworthy that 54% of the beneficiaries of these initiatives are women, reflecting the network’s commitment to gender-inclusive healthcare.
The upcoming Firdos Liver Centre, set to be inaugurated in the new expansion building of the Karachi Korangi Campus, will play a crucial role in treating even more patients. It will comprise two components: the Hepatitis Clinic & Outreach Programmes, which will be part of IHHN’s Primary Care Programme, and the Centre of Excellence.
While the Centre of Excellence will provide free testing, treatment, and counselling, the Hepatitis Clinic & Outreach Programmes will extend IHHN’s efforts to remote communities across the country, providing facilities such as mass screening, laboratory, pharmacy, mental health and dietary counselling.
Your Role in Combating Hepatitis C
This World Hepatitis C Day, we urge every Pakistani to play their part in overcoming this health crisis. Learn about the risks, share this knowledge with your loved ones, and encourage those at risk to get tested. Every conversation, every shared post, and every tested individual brings us closer to a Pakistan free of Hepatitis C.
Together, we can help reduce the burden of Hepatitis C. Let’s celebrate our advancements, support institutions like Indus Hospital & Health Network in their missions, and remain steadfast in our collective efforts. The road to Hepatitis C elimination begins with awareness. Let’s make every day a Hepatitis C day until we eradicate this silent killer from our country.