World Hepatitis Day 2020
Organized by Pakistan Society for the Study of Liver Diseases (PSSLD)
Report by: Dr. Zaigham Abbas
About 15 million people in Pakistan live with hepatitis B or C, with the overwhelming majority unaware of their disease and lack the knowledge about how the viral infection can be prevented, treated, and, in the case of Hepatitis C, cured.
Pakistan Society for the Study of Liver Diseases (PSSLD) organized a series of webinars to observe World Hepatitis Day. The prevalence of hepatitis B in Pakistan is around 2.5%, while that of hepatitis C is 5%. But the prevalence is much higher than average in some districts of upper Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan. About 300 people die in Pakistan every day due to complications caused by hepatitis, a much higher fatality rate than the current Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan.
Dr. Zaigham Abbas, President PSSLD, who heads the Department of Hepato-Gastroenterology Ziauddin University Hospital, Karachi moderated a first-of-its-kind webinar organized by PSSLD in association with Express Media Group. The participants of this webinar included Dr. Bashir Ahmed from Shaheed Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University Larkana, Dr.Shahid Rasool, Madina Teaching Hospital, Faisalabad, Dr. Adil Naseer Khan Ayub Medical College Abbottabad, Dr. Muhammad Salih Consultant Hepatologist Quaid-e-Azam International Hospital Islamabad, Dr. Masood Siddiq Jinnah Memorial Hospital Rawalpindi, Dr. Amna Subhan Aga Khan University (AKU), Dr. Saeed Hamid, head of the Clinical Trials Unit at the AKU and Dr. Wasim Jafri (AKU).
The speakers talked about risk factors, mother to child transmission, vaccination, medical complications caused by hepatitis and how they are treated, how screening can be carried out to identify the millions who have the virus but are yet to be diagnosed.“We need commitment and concerted action from the government instead of patchy responses. Covid-19 has further complicated the situation and the program for mass screening is likely to be delayed further”, speakers observed. They also urged the media to play their role in creating awareness about the disease. The webinar, which was broadcast live on social media, and well covered by electronic and print media also included questions from viewers, which the speakers answered following their presentations.
In another webinar on ‘Play your role in the elimination of hepatitis’, speakers discussed the role of primary care physician, hepatologist, infection control personnel, NGOs, and government authorities in the hepatitis elimination efforts. The theme of the 3 rd webinar was ‘Don’t let COVID-19 undermine hepatitis elimination efforts’. The webinar was addressed by Dr. Zaigham Abbas, Dr. Muzaffar Gill, Dr. Ghias Un Nabi Tayyab, Dr. Sadik Memon, and Dr. Bakht Biland. Dr. Zaigham Abbas answer to the questions of lay public in a webinar in Urdu ‘Our liver, our responsibility’. Besides, Dr. Sadik Memon, and Dr. Qazi Masroor and other members of PSSLD organized mini-symposia in Hyderabad and Bahawalpur and other cities of Pakistan. Dr. Saeed Hamid and Dr. Zaigham Abbas participated in the international webinars to observe WHD.