Carelessness about Hepatitis-C will result in great destruction and devastation-Musadik Malik


 Indus Hospital’s initiative to eliminate Hepatitis-C

Carelessness about Hepatitis-C will result in
great destruction and devastation-Musadik Malik

Proper screening and Genotyping should be followed
by rational use of therapy to eliminate this disease

Campaign being initiated to create awareness, prevention
and treatment of Hepatitis-C in collaboration with
strategic partners - Dr. Zafar Zaidi

KARACHI: Indus Hospital which is known for providing quality care absolutely free of cost has embarked upon yet another ambitious project to eliminate Hepatitis-C. To achieve this objective, it has formed an NGO “Umeed Hai Zingi Foundation” in collaboration with PharmEvo Pharmaceuticals and few other strategic partners including Meezan Bank, Ihsan Trust, Benazir Income Support Programme, WHO, Aaj TV and Nutshell Forum to create awareness, prevention and treatment of this disease. The programme was formally launched on the World Hepatitis Day July 28th 2016.  Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr. Musadik Malik was the chief guest on this occasion.

Addressing a press briefing organized on this occasion Dr. Musadik Malik said that Hepatitis-C was as dangerous as HIV and AIDs which has devastated and destroyed villages after villages in Africa and our carelessness in this field will result in similar destruction. Hence, it is extremely important that each one of us was involved in intervention to change the behaviour of the society. We need to undertake screening of the entire high risk population, do Genotyping and then ensure rational use of therapy. With the availability of oral medication in the shape of Direct Acting Antivirals (DAAs) almost 90% of these patients can be cured if they are provided appropriate treatment. This oral mediation does not have any serious side effects which was the case with Interferon, he added.

Indus Hospital in collaboration with PharmEvo and other strategic partners launched its campaign to
eliminate Hepatitis C at a meeting held at Karachi on July 28th. Dr. Musadik Malik Special Assistant
to the Prime Minister was chief guest. Group photograph taken on this occasion shows Dr. Musadik
Malik along with Dr. Zafar Zaidi from Indus Hospital, Mr. Jamshed Ahmed and Mr. Samad from
PharmEvo and
representatives of other strategic partners in this initiative.

Commending the initiative taken by Indus Hospital with the help of other strategic partners, Dr. Musadik Malik assured full government support for this project. We need to discuss  such important issues like health education about various diseases including Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, AIDs, Cancer, Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension, how to eliminate poverty on the media. Some of these diseases including Hepatitis are unfortunately diagnosed too late as they have no symptoms. It was also unfortunate that we do not have exact figures and do not know the exact burden of many diseases including Hepatitis-C. Accurate data was extremely important and it was our failure that we do not know the exact figures and whatever we know are just estimates. We must know the actual clinical burden to plan intervention strategies. HCV is a similar problem like HIV and AIDs. HCV is not a single disease. Apart from its economic cost, it has social cost as well. We must provide treatment to all those who suffer from Hepatitis-C, initiate effective prevention programmes highlighting the causative factors and create awareness about this disease in the public through mass media. Those unfortunate ones, who cannot be treated and have advanced disease, should be provided Hospice facilities to improve their quality of life.

Federal Government, Dr. Musadik Malik said has launched Prime Minister’s Healthcare Programme in three districts i.e. Islamabad, Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir and in Quetta and gradually it will be extended to twenty one selected districts all over the country. Through this programme the poorest families which earn upto two hundred rupees per day are being provided Health Cards which covers seven important infectious diseases including Hepatitis-C. These families can go to any public or private hospital and seek free treatment upto Rs. 50,000/ - per month. The government has allocated funds through State Life Insurance Corporation and this programme is being properly monitored through NADRA. We are getting daily reports of the number of people availing this facility, the tests being performed and treatment being provided. The monitoring system has been devised in a way which ensures that there is no possibility of misuse of this facility. In secondary care these families can avail financial assistance upto Rs. 2.5 lac to get treatment for the seven diseases which includes cancer, diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis, organ failure management including Hepatitis-C. These facilities are absolutely free and these families will not have to pay anything for diagnosis, investigations and treatment. It is their right and they should avail this facility provided by the Government.  Dr. Musadik Malik also disclosed that so far the Government of Khyber PK and Sindh have not signed to participate in this programme. Government of Punjab and Baluchistan has joined the programme and it has been launched in these provinces and it will be gradually expanded to other districts.  If the provincial governments of Khyber PK and Sindh do not wish to join this programme, they should come up with their own programmes to help these poor people, he added. In the first phase, this programme is being launched in twenty one selected districts   all over Paksitan.

Replying to a question, Dr. Musadik Malik said that after the passage of 18th constitutional amendment, health was a provincial subject and it is upto the provincial governments to implement health related initiatives and they will get full support from the federal government. Responding to yet another question regarding ensuring ethical medical practice and implementation of Guidelines prepared by the Natonal Bioethics Committee, Dr.Musadik Malik said that he will look into it and since they have Government at the Center as well as in two provinces of Punjab and Baluchistan, it was their responsibility to implement such guidelines. We will look into it and take appropriate measures. Answering yet another question regarding increase in drug prices, he said, a fractional increase has been allowed keeping in view the inflation. Let us not kill the pharmaceutical industry and adequate increase in drug prices was essential to ensure continued availability of drugs at affordable prices and the federal government was aware of its responsibilities in this regard.

Earlier Dr. Zafar Zaidi, Director Medical Services at Indus Hospital speaking at the occasion said that Hepatitis-C has become very much prevalent and emerged as a major public health problem in Pakistan. Unfortunately spread of hepatitis was also related to unethical medical practices by the doctors and other healthcare professionals including paramedics which has played a vital role in its spread. We need to check these unethical practices. In collaboration with PharmEvo Pharmaceuticals and a few other strategic partners, we have formed this NGO “Umeed Hai Zindigi Foundation” to provide free treatment to the patients. We have our healthcare facilities in different parts of the country where we will undertake this project. In addition, we have planned medical camps even in small town and villages to create awareness, train and educate people in the causative factors for Hepatitis C and provide treatment. With the help of our strategic partners and philanthropists we have generated funds for this project. Over then thousand people were being screened today at various camps under this project. We have to make concerted efforts to prevent spread of Hepatitis-C failing which it will become an unmanageable problem, he remarked.

Mr. Sajid Hassan, a noted TV Artist who will be working for this project helping this newly formed NGO speaking on this occasion commended the services being rendered by Indus Hospital. He laid emphasis on working with a positive approach and contributes whatever each one of us can to spread the message of change in life style, promote health education and overcome this menace of Hepatitis-C. Representatives of various strategic partners of this NGO were also present on this occasion. Objectives of this NGO include creating awareness to prevent the spread of this disease besides providing treatment facilities to those who are suffering from Hepatitis-C.