A person infected with Hepatitis B or C virus becomes a Potential source of infection to others as well. However, an effective surveillance system that can identify and investigate infected persons can prevent further transmission.
Unfortunately, Hepatitis surveillance in Pakistan has remained periodic. The last large scale surveillance data were collected and analyzed in 2011 in collaboration with the CDC. At present, the Government of Punjab has developed 80 sentinel sites across Punjab for detecting outbreaks of Viral Hepatitis but a worthwhile study is yet to be conducted. One of the goals of PKLI will be to link all these sites to remain data server that will be located at the PKLI – Hepatitis Prevention and Treatment Clinic (HPTC). This will help to consolidate data regarding the prevalence of Hepatitis in Punjab and implement preventive measures to arrest the outbreak.
As a part of an effective surveillance system PKLI aims to take the following steps:
Access burden of disease by monitoring trends in incidence of Viral Hepatitis and risk factors of associated with its transmission.
Provide guidance to clinicians, public and private hospitals and other healthcare settings regarding case ascertainment, reporting, investigation and follow-up of persons with acute Viral Hepatitis.
Established computerized systems for collection of a minimum set of standardized data elements, including demographics and other important clinical data, on all reported cases of Viral Hepatitis. This information will be used for policy making at the provincial and national level to combat this disease.
An effective reporting system can be implemented overtime by making reporting compulsory on various levels like laboratories, blood banks, screening sites or clinics dialysis centers or public and private hospitals. Guidelines for monitoring and reporting of Hepatitis prevalence in high risk groups like prison inmates, intravenous drug users (IDUs), sex workers, in healthcare settings like dental clinics, dialysis units, and hijama clinics will also be established.
Ensure periodic and regular evaluations of the surveillance system to check for quality, completeness, timeliness and validity of the data. Standardized indicators will be established for this purpose.
Hepatitis has become one of the leading causes of deaths in Pakistan and yet knowledge level amongst people regarding this disease is scant at best. Public awareness campaigns are close to none resulting in lack of awareness regarding modes of transmission, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Moreover, the symptoms of a failing Liver can cause grave suffering and such information is also not widely available with public.
Develop interactive and practical educational and training programs to educate public about Hepatitis transmission, prevention and treatment. Various ways of communication like seminars, lectures, social media, electronic media, print media, etc. will be employed to spread the information.
Educate school/ college / university students about blood borne disease as part of primary public health responsibility. Impart education on Hepatitis in madrassas that can play a very significant role in combating the spread of Viral Hepatitis.
Provide education and training to healthcare providers on the necessity of Hepatitis screening, interpretation of tests, referrals to specialists and vaccination among high risk groups.
Support groups comprised of social workers, healthcare personnel and family members will be formed to help patients and their families cope with their illness. These groups will also educate about transmission mode of viral Hepatitis and create awareness that victors of Viral Hepatitis should not be isolated and stigmatized because of their malady.