District hospitals rarely have facilities to treat the disease
Groundwater contamination, use of infectious surgical instruments and adulterated food are wreaking havoc in Faisalabad as more than a quarter of the local population could be infected, a health expert has warned after screening residents of some villages Different types of hepatitis.
Faisalabad district has a population of over 9 million and more than 2 million people are randomly infected with this harmful disease, especially Hepatitis C, posing serious challenges to the health authorities in treating the patients.
There are nearly three dozen reputed hospitals in the city, a few of which have proper treatment facilities to treat hepatitis C, but most of the remaining hospitals lack proper equipment. Only the liver center at United Hospital No. 2, a public-private partnership, has state-of-the-art facilities but is said to be too expensive for poor patients, the area’s main population.
Most of the city’s population depends on groundwater, but the rapid growth of mills and factories in recent decades has polluted groundwater in much of the area.
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“The situation is critical as 28% of people have hepatitis C only and 4% have other types of hepatitis,” Professor Zahid Yasin Hashmi, Chairman of the Liver Foundation Trust said the doctor, who is also a former principal of the foundation. Punjab Medical College.
He revealed that the Liver Foundation conducted free hepatitis screening in 270 villages around Faisalabad, and the cumulative number of people (32%) was shocking. “Most people ignore the seriousness of this disease and only bring patients to the hospital in the late stages of the disease. For such patients, the chance of recovery is very low.”
Hashmi lamented the government’s lukewarm response to the challenge. “We had proposed liver transplantation in Faisalabad in 2007 at a cost of Rs 20 lakh, while the cost of setting up such a facility in India was Rs 40 lakh.”
Although the Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA) has the authority to supply water, it can only provide drinking water to 40% of the population, 60% of whom still use water from other sources.
There have also been complaints of water contamination from decades-old pipes managed by WASA, as some of them have become damaged, causing sewage to mix with fresh water.
Another health expert, Dr Mohammad Anas, said: “Contaminated water and food are the main causes of hepatitis A and E, while hepatitis B, C and D are spread through the use of infectious surgical equipment .”
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“There are very alarming facts about our country’s adulterated food testing facilities. Many adulterated foods are freely available in our markets,” he said.
The Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), an organization responsible for setting quality standards, has its office in Faisalabad but does not have a laboratory that can immediately test food quality. While the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) also conducts random operations across the province and confiscates substandard food, small shops and vendors are hidden from their sight.
One hundred and fifty water filtration plants have been installed in different areas of Faisalabad but their capacity is insufficient to meet the drinking water needs of the people. District Health Authority (DHA) spokesperson Abdur Razzak said the prevalence of hepatitis C is higher among the rural population due to the use of infected surgical and injection materials and unhygienic food. high.
“All types of hepatitis (A to E) are prevalent in Faisalabad, but the number of patients suffering from hepatitis C is much higher,” he said.
Published in Express Tribune, October 30th2023.