Ali Abdullah

SIALKOT

About 90 percent people of Dhillam and Balaggan, twin villages in Union Council Bhopalwala on Sambrial-Daska Road, have been infected with Hepatitis C virus and in almost every house, at least one such patient could be found, it is learnt.

Moreover, every newborn baby also gets infected with the disease in the villages which consist of 15,000 people. The situation is pathetic and getting grimmer with every passing moment, said Ghulam Dastgir, an advocate. For the last five years now, reason behind every death in the villages has been hepatitis C while nobody was doing anything on the front, he lamented.

The treatment of the disease is too expensive to be afforded. Meanwhile, quacks are playing havoc with the people’s health. When asked, Dr Akram Raza, in-charge of BHU Bhopalwala, said that some 90pc people of the villages were suffering from the virus. Two of the major reasons behind the disease are quackery and ear piercing.

He alleged that quacks namely Tariq Maqsood, Sajjad, Aslam Fauji, Manzoor, Ehsaan, Mubarak and many more have been practicing in the area illegally and thus responsible for the disease as they repeatedly use syringes for injection.

Ear piercing of girls is part of culture and also second biggest source of infection among schoolgirls, he further added. Ear piercers roam about in the streets and prick each girl’s ears with the same piercing machine needle, the doctor explained. On health education, he said that he has done 15-20 workshops in the Town Hall and has been regularly visiting schools and delivering lectures on the issue.

Regarding healthcare at local level, he said that BHU Bhopalwala did not have a screening lab and local donors have built a lab inside this BHU. He further said that he had thrice written about the situation to the DHO Sialkot office in the last five years but he was rewarded with a snub by a former DHO in the monthly meeting.

On medicines for HCV, he said that no BHU in Pakistan was given free medicine for hepatitis C patients and only district headquarters hospitals had the facility. “Deserving patients are enrolled in a register in DHQ hospitals and then they have to wait for at least four months to get their medicine,” he said. Another doctor namely Abdul Jabbar from Sialkot daily visits the deserted area in evenings and treats the patients free of cost.

When contacted, DHO Sialkot Dr Javed Warraich said that the government had provided DHQ-level facilities at Civil Hospital Daska and free treatment for 100 patients. Moreover, he said that anti-quackery squad would be mobilised in the area to curb the menace.