Rawalpindi-The Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) in collaboration with Centre for Liver and Digestive Diseases Pakistan has launched a “Hepatitis Free Rawalpindi” programme with the vision of eliminating hepatitis by 2030.

The process of eliminating the lethal Hepatitis C will work under the guidance of RMU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Muhammad Umar, informed a varsity spokesman on Friday. According to him, it is the 1st programme of its kind and a step forward towards elimination of hepatitis from Pakistan.

It is a community-based programme for screening, diagnoses and treatment of hepatitis C cases in Rawalpindi city, he said. He added through this program union council wise screening to find the missing cases have already been started and a 4th successful camp organised in this continuation at Union Council -1, Rata Amral Rawalpindi to brace the occasion.

The 1st phase of this programme will screen a population of 944203 people and all positive patients will be treated free of cost. Up till now more than 3000 people have been screened in 2 months and more than 100 patients have now been put on treatment free of cost. Programs like these are required throughout the country to eliminate hepatitis by 2030, he mentioned.

As many as 257 million people are living with hepatitis B and 71 million are living with hepatitis C respectively. Pakistan being number two in the world with HCV viremic prevalence of 5.8 per cent, shares a major disease burden, the spokesman said.

He said in 2016 WHO launched a global campaign to eliminate hepatitis from the world by 2030 and 28th July has been celebrated as World Hepatitis Day internationally as a memorandum of this motto. Similarly this year world hepatitis day is being celebrated with the slogan of “find the missing millions”. 9 out of 10 people living with viral hepatitis are unaware that they are infected with the disease, that’s more than 290 million people across the globe.

Meanwhile, an awareness walk was also organised in connection with World Hepatitis Day at Holy Family Hospital. The walk was participated by VC RMU Prof Dr Muhammad Umar, senior and junior doctors of Center for Liver and Digestive Diseases, Society for Therapeutic Endoscopy Pakistan (STEP), Pakistan Society of Herpetology (PSH), Department of Community Medicine and Preventive Health, Department of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology and Shifa for You which is an American Tele Physicians Project in Pakistan along with MAS and VFAHT which are the student societies of RMU.

Awareness walk was organised starting from Rawalpindi Medical College and ending at Administrative Block of Holy Family Hospital. Doctors from different specialties, medical students, para-medical staff and patients participated in the walk. They were holding banners representing the slogan “Find the missing millions”. Informative brochures and booklets were distributed, highlighting preventive measures and screening testing in local language. Huge Banners with similar information were also displayed in all tertiary care hospitals of Rawalpindi. Awareness massages were publicised through print, social and electronic media. Free screening and vaccination camp also organised aiding screening of 500 people and 100 vaccinations for Hepatitis B as well.

I hope this model will be replicated at federal and provincial level with the help of federal and provincial government.

Earlier, the proceedings of celebrations of World Hepatitis Day were started with an awareness lecture delivered by Prof Dr Muhammad Umar who highlighted the theme of the day “Find the missing Millions”.