Home » Pakistan tops world in hepatitis C infections with 8.8 million cases

Pakistan tops world in hepatitis C infections with 8.8 million cases

by Haroon Amin
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Based on a World Health Organisation (WHO) research, Pakistan has the highest number of viral hepatitis C infections globally, with an astounding 8.8 million cases.

Remarkably, 44% of newly diagnosed cases of hepatitis C in the nation are related to improper medical injections. Prior to now, Pakistan was not far behind Egypt in terms of the number of cases of hepatitis C and B.

According to data from 187 nations, the number of people expected to die from viral hepatitis rose from 1.1 million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022. According to the analysis, hepatitis B was the cause of 83% of these deaths, and hepatitis C was responsible for the remaining 17%.

Pakistan comes in fifth place worldwide when the cases of hepatitis B and hepatitis C are combined, after China, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. There were over 12.6 million cases recorded in Pakistan in 2022.

As per the WHO’s 2024 Global Hepatitis Report, the top 10 nations worldwide contributing to the prevalence of viral hepatitis B and C are Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Russian Federation.

According to the research, half of the world’s cases of hepatitis C are found in six nations: the US, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Russian Federation. Yet, Egypt stands out as the first nation to reach the WHO’s gold-tier designation in the race to eradicate hepatitis C, having fulfilled the necessary requirements to reach lower incidence and death targets for the disease’s complete eradication by 2030.

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The report also stated that 16 nations had received validation for eradicating HBV, syphilis, or HIV as of December 2023. In response to the findings, eminent medical professionals observed that in Pakistan, the majority of patients either receive an accidental diagnosis or develop symptoms years after first becoming infected.

Speaking with a local media outlet, Dr. Masood Sheikh of the Lahore General Hospital stated that Pakistan has a prevalence rate of 4.8 percent nationwide, making it the country with the second-highest incidence of hepatitis C globally.

He said, “There was an 8 percent increase in hepatitis B-related deaths and a 5 percent increase in hepatitis C-related deaths from 2015 to 2019.”

  • Pakistan’s High Prevalence

After Egypt, Pakistan has the second-highest global prevalence of hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C infections were estimated to affect 7% of people in the province of Punjab and 5% of people nationwide in a 2007 survey.

One of the main ways that the virus spreads is through unsafe injections and unclean equipment.

  • Reasons for Dispersal:

There are multiple reasons for Pakistan’s high hepatitis C prevalence:

Using contaminated syringes: Risky injection techniques have a major role in the spread of infection.

Blood transfusion without appropriate screening: Infections can result from improper screening of blood prior to transfusion.

Unhygienic dental tools: Inadequate personal hygiene in dental offices.

Unhygienic grooming practices: barbers reusing razor blades.

Inadequate infrastructure to dispose of infectious waste.

In Pakistan, the virus is spreading more widely as a result of things including improper healthcare practices, sharing personal objects, and a lack of knowledge about sterilisation measures.

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