Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar addresses World Hepatitis Summit - shares progress in fight against the disease.

2017-11-04

Islamabad Nov 4, 2017. Federal Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar addressed the World Hepatitis Summit in the Brazillian city of Sao Paolo on Saturday. She shared that Pakistan has about 12 million people suffering from hepatitis B or C. 

Considering that Pakistan has one of the highest burden of disease with regard to Hepatitis B and C in the EMRO region comprising 22 countries, there was a need to have in place a consensus National Strategic framework to control the spread of the disease. It is with this objective that our Ministry in partnership with the provinces launched Pakistan National Hepatitis Strategy Framework to eliminite the disease by the year 2030.

We understand that the first step is to enhance hepatitis B vaccination in all ages including the birth dose. Secondly to ensure safe blood transfusion and the third is toensure strict adherence to infection controlpractices in the health care facilities. Finally, we must encourage people to get tested and treat those who are infected .My ministry undertook some tangible steps for the effective prevention and control of hepatitis in the country. The Technical Advisory Group on hepatitis was constituted. This body guides the Federal government and Provincial hepatitis programs on way forward to achieve disease control. On the advice of Technical Advisory Group, our government introduced the new oral hepatitis drugs in the country and negotiated with the pharmaceuticalcompanies to bring the cost down. I am very happy to share that globally we have the cheapest hepatitis drugs available in Pakistan.
During my tenure, the Technical Advisory Group also developed new hepatitis C treatment guidelines, which have been handed over to the Provinces for use.I take immense pride in the fact that under the guidance of our Ministry and with the Technical Assistance from WHO and CDC, Pakistan Health Research Council developed the National Hepatitis Strategic Framework for the next 5 years.This is a landmark as Pakistan is the first country in the WHO EMRO region to develop such a strategic framework. I would like to thank CDC, WHO, and all the partners for theirtechnical support and assistance in the prevention and control of hepatitis in Pakistan.We remain committed to the goal of disease elimination by the year 2030 and I pledge to do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. World Hepatitis Summit being held in Sao Paolo Brazil from 3rd to 5th November has been organized by World Health Organization and brings together endemic countries, donors, experts and researchers to deliberate and agree on way forward to achieve the goal of Hepatitis elimination by 2030.