Author: Rana Tassawar Ali, September 28 2015 - Hepatitis has becoming an increasingly troubling disease in Pakistan, with estimates of over 16 million Hepatitis-infected sufferers in the country. The prevalence of this disease is a sadly alarming situation of which people need to become aware and informed. In Pakistan, the National Hepatitis Control Program became decentralized after the passage of the 18th amendment; now, provincial governments are providing treatment services in their limited resource settings.
At the same time, the World Hepatitis Alliance suggests that Hepatitis B and C are an urgent public health issue. For example, the Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2012 lists the following for Hepatitis C: "the highest reported prevalence is in China (3.2%), Egypt (22%) and Pakistan (4.8%)." As it was seen globally in the past, the lobby of Hepatitis activists did not result in Hepatitis being included in the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and other development programs like the Global Fund’s health-related components. The poor allocation of budgets and low priority increase the speed of the disease worldwide.
The policy and strategy of the government of Pakistan for controlling Hepatitis is not comprehensive; many unmet needs of patients leave gaps in Hepatitis programs. In the country, a Hepatitis advocacy group, which is in the formulation stage, will take time to address related issues. Being a part of this advocacy group, I have found that it is a good thing that all members of group are very committed and motivated for one cause: “Hepatitis-free Pakistan”. This advocacy group was founded through the cooperation of PSSLD (Pakistan Society for Study of Liver Disease) and many health-based organizations that are member organizations for the group. In the future, this advocacy group will enhance understanding regarding the disease, and this prestigious group will propose a strategic plan for the government. Hopefully, the advocacy group against Hepatitis will make the difference, and it will be the voice of all infected people.