In pakistan the Hepatitis Control Programme’s fate hangs in the balance
Though the Ministry of Health was devolved to the provinces several months ago, the fate of National Hepatitis Control Programme is still hanging in the balance while the federal units are not ready to take any responsibility and earmark the required funds.
According to the statistics compiled by the Health Ministry, around 12 million people in Pakistan are suffering from hepatitis B and C and the Hepatitis Control Programme is the only hope for thousands of poor patients as they cannot afford very expensive treatment privately.
A federal health official said on condition of anonymity that all provinces had been reluctant so far to allocate funds for special national health programmes, including Hepatitis Control Programme. He said that the provincial authorities had told the federal government that they welcomed the decision of devolution of the Health Ministry, but if the federal government wanted to continue the special programmes, it should keep on funding them for the next five years, otherwise they would not be able to accommodate their staff.
He added the provincial authorities were of the view that funding for all vertical programmes, currently implemented by the provinces, was routed through the federal government’s Health Ministry and after its devolution, funds would fall under the control of the provincial finance departments; the provinces would provide funds to their departments according to their own priorities. The first phase of the Hepatitis Control Programme was launched in August 2005 with a Rs 2.59 billion budget to control hepatitis, but, unfortunately, all seems to have gone in vain as the number of patients suffering from the deadly disease is increasing with every passing day.
After the failure of the first phase, now the federal government has allocated Rs13.9 billion for the second phase of the project which started in November last and will end in 2015.
An official in the programme told Pakistan Today said, “A big success of this programme is that we have set up a first liver transplant centre in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).” He said in the second phase, they had targeted to treat 10,000 people infected with hepatitis B and C and they had already provided free treatment to high-risk groups such as paramedics, medical student vaccinators, sweepers and drug abusers as they were more vulnerable to get infected.
He further said that the programme was designed for prevention and control of hepatitis and treatment was only a component of it, so the major focus of the programme was on preventive measures. He added the second phase of this programme had five components, including programme management and surveillance, case management and care, prevention; training, education and awareness, and research and publication.http://bit.ly/vIAgZt