Pakistan has the second largest burden of hepatitis C, a serious infection which claims 350,000 lives every year in the world. The global burden of chronic hepatitis B is around 350m, killing around 600,000 people yearly.
This information was shared by experts during the second day of an international symposium on molecular medicine and drug research continuing at Karachi University’s International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS).
“It is estimated that 350 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus. Of them, 75 per cent were infected at birth. This is despite the fact that there is a vaccine for hepatitis B,” he said, adding that 1.4m cases of acute hepatitis A occurred yearly worldwide.
Hepatitis C Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
On the progress made in treatment, he said though treatment for chronically infected hepatitis B patients with certain drugs had proved to be beneficial, the disease couldn’t be eliminated. In contrast, however, chronically infected hepatitis C patients could be cured completely.
Prof Iqbal Choudhary, the ICCBS director, said that there was a dire need for cost-effective strategies for drug development, which must be based on indigenous knowledge resource base.
“As the developing world faces food security issues, it also confronts the challenges of drug insecurity. There is a need for cost-effective strategies for drug development,” he said, urging that the government should prioritise the agenda for developing safe and effective drugs.
Eliminating risk factors implies ensuring implementation of health and safety mechanisms — including curtailing the use of dirty syringes, enforcing safe blood transfusions and improving the hospital-waste disposal infrastructure.