Aug 13 - 19, 2007

Realising the increasing number of patients of Hepatitis in Pakistan, the government has launched a national program worth Rs.2.55 billion to control the spread of the disease.

Under this program, Rs. 730 million would be spent for providing free treatment to the patients of Hepatitis-C in the country during current financial year whereas besides vaccination against Hepatitis-B to the children of one year age at a cost of Rs.830million, Rs.165million have been allocated for screening of patients suffering from any kind of hepatitis. Besides allocation of Rs.420 million for the hospital waste management, Rs.80 million for installation of water purification plants and Rs.20 million for safe blood transfusion services, Rs.90 million will be spent on Ministry of Health's program management under this national program.

The Punjab Governor, Lt-General (Retd.) Khalid Maqbool chaired a briefing at the Governor's House. National Program Manager for Hepatitis control, Dr. Sharif Ahmad Khan said that 12,000 deserving patients of hepatitis in Punjab province will be provided free treatment on the expense of federal government this year whereas 10,000 children will be immunized from this disease.

The meeting decided that 500 each deserving patients suffering from Hepatitis-C will be provided free treatment under this special program in teaching hospitals of ten big cities of the Punjab whereas interferon therapy will be provided to 300 patients in each DHQ hospital of eight districts and 100 patients of Hepatitis-C in every DHQ hospital of 26 small districts. The expenses of ECR test for scrutiny of patients will be borne by the Pakistan Baitul Mal.

Governor Khalid Maqbool said that this programme is an important step towards improving the national health standard for controlling Hepatitis.

Expressing his concern that this fatal disease has spread in Pakistan and 7.5 million people are suffering from Hepatitis-B whereas 6 million are suffering from Hepatitis-C.

He said that government has attached top priority to provide modern treatment facilities against hepatitis in all teaching and district headquarter hospitals.

According to experts, Hepatitis has become an epidemic disease in the world.

Presently 385 million people are suffering from Hepatitis-B whereas 200 million people are suffering from Hepatitis-C. About one million people die every year due to viral infection of both kinds of hepatitis in the world.

The Hepatitis disease spreads due to unsafe blood transfusion, re-use of syringe, extraction and filling of teeth, wearing of jewelry, piercing of ear and nose and use of one blade for repeated shaves.

According to Punjab Health Secretary, Syed Raees Abbas Zaidi, the provincial government will install modern machines for PCR test at a total cost of Rs. 40 million in Nishtar Hospital Multan, Sh. Zayed Hospital, Rahimyar Khan, Allied Hospital Faisalabad whereas PCR machine is also being installe at a cost of Rs.18 million at Mayo Hospital Lahore during next month.

Governor Punjab, Lt-General (Retd). Khalid Maqbool in a meeting to review the progress of on-going development programs of University of Health Sciences and King Edward Medical University, Lahore, gave approval to up-gradation of various sections of basic medical sciences and establishment of DNA lab at a cost of Rs. 35 million at Molecular Genetics Department of King Edward Medical University Lahore and allocation of 58 acres of land at Kala Shah Kaku for new campus of University of Health Sciences.

It may be mentioned that the Punjab government has allocated Rs.6 billion for providing best treatment facilities in basic health units during current financial year.

Moreover, Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi while addressing the inaugural

ceremony of causality and emergency ward of Services Hospital, said that a cancer hospital of international standard is being established in the provincial metropolis for which land has been acquired. ''The government is using billions of rupees on the provision of modern and quality health services to the masses while free treatment is being given to the patients in emergency wards of all hospitals and even costly medicines are being provided free of charge," he said.

The emergency block of the Services Hospital had been improved at a cost of Rs 330 million and its bed capacity increased from 60 to 150 beds. He also announced Rs 100 million for the provision of new machinery for the Services Hospital and the construction of radiology and ENT blocks. He added that four new operation theaters had been set up in the emergency ward plus arrangements for the records computerization. He said a digital radiology, CT Scan, blood bank, pathology lab, ICU, 20-bed CCU and an air-conditioned waiting room have also been set up for the attendants of the patients.

He said that state-of-the-art health facilities are being extended in the emergency wards of the hospitals.

He said timely medical assistance to the patients in the emergency wards helps in their recovery; therefore, the government is upgrading emergency wards on priority basis. In addition to necessary facilities to the doctors and staff, the government was also ensuring availability of medicines at health centers.

He said that Multan Institute of Cardiology has become operational while construction of a modern cardiac center in Faisalabad has been completed. He said that foundation stone of an institute of cardiology would be laid in Wazirabad on August 14. He said that burn units have been established in Multan and Lahore whereas similar units are being established in other cities of the province as well. He said that the system of training of nurses has been improved.