By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that that it has registered 54,000 positive cases of hepatitis B and C in the past three years.
The health ministry provided the data on Monday while commemorating the World Hepatitis Day (WHD) with the theme “Prevent Hepatitis-Act now” with its partner World Health Organization (WHO).
Speaking at a seminar the deputy health minister expressed her concerns about growing cases of hepatitis in the country and said that probably too many other people would have the disease but the MoPH has no information.
Najia Tariq said that every year 4,000 people die due to viral hepatitis in the world. However, she has no data to tell how many people die from hepatitis in Afghanistan.
She pointed out that last year around 19,804 cases of hepatitis were registered in the blood banks. Nearly 50 percent of patients became infected after sharing syringes.
The deputy minister said that in the past three years the National AIDS Program of MoPH registered around 54,000 cases of positive hepatitis B and C in the country, adding that two percent of the total population is infected by the hepatitis virus.
Program Manager of WHO in Afghanistan, Supriay Arusavithana, said that nearly 1.5 million die due to hepatitis every year, mostly from Hepatitis B and C and many more become newly infected.
She said: “The key message for fighting against viral hepatitis that world focused this year is prevent hepatitis, know the risks, get tested, seek treatment, demand safe injection and get vaccination.”
Chief of Policy and Planning at the Ministry of Counter Narcotics said that based on surveys there are around three million drug addicts in Afghanistan.
He claimed that majority of addicts who inject drugs through syringes have hepatitis B.
Some health experts believe that prevention of hepatitis is difficult while relying only on public awareness drives. They said the MoPH should take concrete steps.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by several viruses. The main types are A, B, C and E. Type A symptoms are often similar to a stomach virus. Hepatitis B and C can cause sudden illness. However, they can lead to liver cancer or a chronic infection that can lead to serious liver damage called cirrhosis.
Hepatitis A: This type won’t lead to long-term infection and usually doesn’t cause any complications. The sick’s liver heals in about 2 months. It is preventable with a vaccine.
Hepatitis B: Most people recover from this type in 6 months. Sometimes, though, it causes a long-term infection that could lead to liver damage. This virus is chronic and spreadable even if the sick persons don’t feel sick. Persons won’t catch it if they get a vaccine.
Hepatitis C: Many people with this type don’t have any symptoms. About 80% of those with the disease get along-term infection. It can sometimes lead to cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver.