Islamabad, October 08, 2017 (PPI-OT): Federal Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar said Pakistan has one of the highest burden of disease with regard to Hepatitis B and C in the EMRO region, there was a need to have in place a consensus National Strategic framework to control the spread of the disease. According to National Hepatitis Survey done in 2008, Pakistan has about 12 million people suffering from hepatitis B or C. Within the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Pakistan and Egypt bear 80 percent of hepatitis disease burden while addressing the launching National Hepatitis Strategic Framework today in Islamabad.
She said role of my Ministry at the federal level is policy formulation, regulatory and coordinating with stakeholders and Provinces. As a policy we realized that Pakistan also needs to align its steps towards disease elimination therefore we asked the international experts to guide us as to which steps should we take to achieve disease elimination by 2030. Secondly to ensure safe blood transfusion and the third is to ensure strict adherence to infection control practices in the health care facilities. Finally, we must encourage people to get tested and treat those who are infected.
The Health Minister shared that her Ministry undertook some tangible steps for the effective prevention and control of hepatitis in the country i.e. conducted the first countrywide National Hepatitis Survey in 2008, the Technical Advisory Group on hepatitis was constituted. This body guides the Federal government and Provincial hepatitis programs on way forward to achieve disease control. On the advice of Technical Advisory Group, our government introduced the new oral hepatitis drugs in the country and negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies to bring the cost down. I am very happy to announce that globally we have the cheapest hepatitis drugs available in Pakistan.
Minister said during my tenure, the Technical Advisory Group also developed new hepatitis C treatment guidelines, which have been handed over to the Provinces for use. Minister said the role of the Provinces will be of critical importance in implementing the strategic framework on ground as the real test will be the results achieved in terms of decline in hepatitis prevalence and incidence in the country. I pledge all out support to the Provincial Governments in undertaking this task. Minister thanked CDC, WHO, TAG members and all the partners for their technical support and assistance in the prevention and control of hepatitis in Pakistan.
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