According to a recent study done by the Pakistan Medical Research Council (PMRC), 6 million people are suffering from Hepatitis B, whereas, Hepatitis C (which is the most dangerous form of the liver disease) has been affecting 9 million people throughout the country.
However the government says that country-wide availability of cost-free diagnostic facilities is enabling more and more people to get themselves tested for the virus and subsequently register for treatment. Therefore, recently collected data by the PMRC has been able to show the hidden burden of these diseases.
Similarly, number of poor patients registered with government hospitals for the treatment has also increased manifold. In 2005, the number of Hepatitis C patients, according to the government hospitals, were 10,815, whereas, according to the latest reports their number has increased to 85,000 people.
Similarly, number of Hepatitis B patients in 2005, reported to government hospitals for free treatment, was only 1,000; however, it has risen to over 7,000 in the current year.
The federal government in August 2005 had launched Prime Minister’s programme for the prevention and control of Hepatitis at a cost of Rs2.5 billion for a period of five years 2005-2010.
Under the PC-I of the programme, 28 per cent of the money is meant for the provision of treatment, whereas, the remaining 72 per cent has been given to diagnostic, preventive and awareness activities.Hence, the provision of free of cost treatment is limited and restricted only to the eligible poor patients and the same being augmented by resources of the provincial and district governments, hospitals concerned and Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Zakat & Usher departments.