'9 million suffering from hepatitis C'

ISLAMABAD (APP)- The Senate was informed on Friday that around 8,800,000 million people in Pakistan are suffering from deadly hepatitis C while another 5,600,000 are affected by hepatitis B. In written reply to a question, minister for health Aijaz Hussain Jhakrani said the figures have been compiled by a recent sero-prevalence study conducted by Pakistan Medical Research Council. "The quantum of hepatitis C and B are 4.9 percent and 2.5 percent respectively," the minister added.He said the availability of diagnostic facilities and awareness campaigns have un-earthed the hidden burden of the disease. The Prime Minister Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis was launched in August 2005 with a total cost of Rs 2.594 billion for a period of five years. The number of patients with the disease since then have increased manifold as the government started to provide free treatment, though on a limited scale. When the programme was launched in 2005-06 the number of patients, most of them poor, who were registered and treated at government hospitals were 10,815 and 1,000 for hepatitis C and B respectively. For the year 2008-09 the figure is 84,773 and 7,204 respectively for the two categories of the disease. Free treatment is restricted only to the poor patients through financial support provided by Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal and Zakat and Ushr departments.

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