It is in your power to control and prevent early deaths
Japanese Encephalitis: Limted data; human cases reported from around Karachi
This meeting was organized by APPNA and co-sponsored by Islamic Relief, in order to assess the epidemiology of Hepatitis C , to explore the factors leading to the increasing incidence in the country, and to find ways to stop the spread of the disease.
The conference was attended by representatives from ten medical institutions, including members of a number of educational institutions who have used medical and educational awareness modules developed by the APPNA Hepatitis C team in their efforts against the virus. A number of non-governmental organizations active in the field of prevention and treatment of Hepatitis C also made presentations.
During the epidemiology session, there were presentations by Dr Huma Qureshi, who presented the Pakistan Medical Research Council’s nationwide survey, and Dr Arshad Altaf, who presented findings of his work on needle safety and made the case for a safe injection initiative and efforts to decrease the number of injections.
Dr. Adnan Khan, Director Research & Development Solutions (Islamabad), was of the opinion that focusing on stopping the culture of intravenous catheters and drips needed more focus and research, as these activities are vehicles for transmission of the disease. Professor Altaf Alam had a detailed presentation on the high incidence of Hepatitis C in special high risk populations which included dialysis patients, hemophiliacs and IV drug abusers. He also discussed the need for better screening and prevention efforts.
The blood and blood products safety and transfusion transmissible infection session had presentations by Drs Zaheer, M.Anwar and Sarfraz Jafri, which led to discussions about screening kits which may have serious reliability issues, as well as the need to standardize the screening and data collection process, and the use of other blood products rather than whole blood transfusions.
This session led to recommendations which have been drafted for immediately needed reforms, as well as for the introduction of policies and procedures for blood banks in the country.
A number of thoughtful and detailed presentations were made by Dr. Altaf Ahmed from Indus Hospital, Professors Seema Irfan and Afia Zafar from Agha Khan University hospital in the session titled “Disinfectants and infection control in Hospitals, surgical and dental clinics and centers”.
A list of recommendations has been drafted for instituting infection control committees, for policies and procedures in hospitals, and for the need of the use of appropriate sterilization techniques and use of appropriate disinfectants.
Professor Arif Siddiqui of Allama Iqbal Medical College’s presentation about teaching medical students was a detailed presentation and had useful recommendations for procedure safety recommendations for medical students and the housestaff. He also suggested that all intramuscular injections should be sold with accompanied sterile syringe in the packing which may lead to injection safety.
There were a number of spirited presentations from the ten medical colleges who had active participation in APPNA sponsored awareness campaigns. These campaigns were carried out by medical students in their colleges, hospitals and their surrounding communities . The educational institutions who have adopted our educational module including TCF (Citizens Foundation), Human Development Foundation, Tanzeem ul Madaris, and Danish School systems, made convincing presentations. This brought home the important point that the education of students and their ability to spread awareness to their parents and neighbors can be a very effective tool for getting the message out to the public.
Non-governmental organizations like The Health Foundation and the Gujranwala Foundation presented their activities and stressed that more civic society participation is the key to succeed in this effort.
A number of political parties sent representatives to attend the meeting, including Mr. Ahsan Iqbal-PML (N) who is a member of important National Assembly committees and was our main dinner guest. Also attending were Punjab Government parliamentary health secretary, Dr. Saeed Elahi, Provincial Minister Mr. Qureshi, and Punjab Assembly member Mr. Afzal Khan, who is a Dengue Task force committee member and attended a number of the sessions.
I was also able to meet prominent media opinion makers and made the case for their participation in the prevention and awareness efforts needed to combat the impending epidemic. Our recommendations have been sent to the government, legislatures, and the media, as prevention is the best way we are going to be able to deal with this public health issue.
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