WHO urges for decentralizing essential hepatitis services in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed the need to decentralize essential hepatitis services, deliver them in an integrated manner, bring hepatitis care closer to those who need it and engage communities and patient groups to expand access in Pakistan.

On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day to be observed on July 28, the WHO said that this year the day will be observed with theme ‘Bring hepatitis care closer’.

The WHO said that it looking forward for decentralization of essential hepatitis services and its delivery closer to communities and people to expand access in Pakistan.

Viral hepatitis affects 360 million people worldwide and claims 3000 lives every day. In 2015, the World Health Assembly adopted a strategy to eliminate hepatitis by 2030 through prevention, testing and treatment.

World Hepatitis Day, commemorated annually on 28 July, reminds us of our commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The strategy is fully aligned with WHO’s vision of “Health for All, by All” in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Pakistan is facing a considerable high disease burden due to Viral Hepatitis B and C. It has higher prevalence of Hepatitis C (7%) globally and considerable number of people suffering from HCV. Around 15 million people are estimated infected with Viral Hepatitis C and another five million are estimated infected with Viral Hepatitis B, in the country.

The theme of world hepatitis day this year aims to raise awareness about the need to simplify and bring hepatitis care to primary health care facilities, community-based venues and locations beyond hospital sites, so that heath care is closer to communities and people wherever they are.

Primary health care is an essential pillar of universal health coverage, and hepatitis services, including testing, treatment and prevention, need to be integrated within it.

Bringing hepatitis care closer to communities will secure prevention services for those at higher risk for hepatitis.

The WHO said that Hepatitis B vaccines should be provided to all newborns within 24 hours of birth as part of neonatal care and mothers should be tested early in their pregnancies to prevent transmission of hepatitis to their babies. It should be ensured that all eligible are tested viral hepatitis in view of treatment.

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