In Faisalabad, 24 percent of population suffers from Hepatitis-C

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FAISALABAD: Poor check on quacks, barbers and hygienic conditions at government and private hospitals is causing massive increase in Hepatitis C cases in Faisalabad.

Dr Mohammad Irfan, an assistant professor at the District Headquarters Hospital, Faisalabad told News Lens Pakistan that as many as 24 percent population of the division was suffering from hepatitis C – highest ratio in Pakistan.

“Across the country only eight percent people are suffering, however, the ratio is high here as the quacks are ruling in all parts of the division. These quacks charged PKR 25 to PKR 50 for checking a patient and extra PKR 20 in case of injection for different diseases,” he further added.

He said that in rural areas people were catching this disease rapidly as the healthcare facilities were being provided by the quacks by using the name of qualified doctors. However, in reality such doctors never visit their establishments to check the patients.

“The quacks were using a single syringe to inject the patients who come to them finding their fees low as compare to qualified doctors. Single syringe was a major source of hepatitis C,” he added.

“We had detected more than 70 percent people of Chak 58-GB, Jaranwala suffering from hepatitis C a couple of years ago. During study of this area, it had been established that more than one dozen quacks were responsible of spreading this disease,” Dr Irfan said.

The Allied Hospital administration had screened 57,452 patients in 2014 out of which 16013 of them tested positive for Hepatitis C. The screened people had been brought for different types of surgeries like laparoscopy, renal stone, gynecology, C-section, gallbladder and ENT. Besides, a number of patients suffering from stroke, renal failure, cardiac failure and various lungs related diseases were also among the screened people.

According to official statistics of the hospital, in Jan 2014 as many as 5401 patients were tested out of which 1,567 people tested positive. In Feb 5129 with 1397, Mar 5462 with 1464, April 5325 with 1592, May 5223 with 1726, June 5268 with 1647, July 4390 with 1357, Aug 6413 with 1578, Sep 6560 with 1357, Oct 4127 with 987 and out of 4154 patients 1341 were tested positive with hepatitis C.

Dr Irfan said screening of patients at the Allied Hospital was an eye-opener for everyone and the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) was mulling to launch a drive against doctors who had been supporting the quacks to run hospitals by using their names and contributing to hepatitis C.

“Qualified doctors are being dishonest with the people. The PMA will bridle this trend and bring the quacks to the book. District government often launched drive on papers rather chasing the quacks on regular basis who were playing with the lives of masses,” Dr Irfan said.

Taking advantage of the hepatitis C prevalence and absence of government healthcare facilities in rural areas the quacks are minting handsome money and employing horrible methods for treatment.

Ashiq Ali, a progressive farmer of Shorkot, told News Lens Pakistan, “A couple of months ago a quack had come to a village claiming he had complete grip on hepatitis treatment. A number of patients got themselves examined and paid to him, however, all are still suffering from the same disease.”

Narrating treatment method of the quack Ali said, “The man made a cut on the tongue of each patient claiming the bleeding would banish the disease from the body. However, after four to five months people did not feel any change.” “Now patients and their families had been tracing the quack to settle their score. Quack is not in seen in nearby villages,” Ali added.

Ashiq informed News Lens Pakistan that in recent months clinics of quacks had increased manifold in various parts of the district of Jhang and treating hepatitis C patients with no experience. Similarly, he said the medical storeowners had also been detected prescribing medicines to such patients.

Quacks play with the lives of masses, as the government has no grip on this mafia, Dr Maqsood Ahmed, an associate professor of the Punjab Medical College told News Lens Pakistan. Adding to this he said that the prevalence of hepatitis was high, no official drive has been initiated to extend affordable treatment to patients.

“People have the wrong perception that potable water is the major cause of hepatitis C. In reality barbers and quacks were the main reasons. Contaminated water leads to hepatitis A not C,” Dr Ahmed said. “Non-sterilization of the instruments being used for surgery and checkup of the patients also contributed in spreading of hepatitis C,” he added.

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