On World Hepatitis Day, the Government of Pakistan announced a new ambitious plan by the Prime Minister to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. The plan was unveiled by Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, and aims to scale up hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services by screening up to 140 million people in Pakistan for viral hepatitis and providing free medical treatment for those infected. Approximately, 15 million people are living with hepatitis B and C in Pakistan and more than 20,000 people die annually of hepatitis-related causes.
New initiatives were also announced for injection safety, safe blood transfusion and national infection control guidelines. The Government of Pakistan has also been able to procure hepatitis C treatment at low prices. Providing treatment to all those currently diagnosed with hepatitis C could reduce healthcare costs in Pakistan within three years. It is estimated that 16 million people in Pakistan will need antivirals.
Pakistan’s President Alvi noted, “The plan is a step forward toward improving healthcare in the country and achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in the long run.”