Today, 12 million Pakistanis have hepatitis B or C, and about 150,000 new infections are acquired each year.1
Viral hepatitis is a major healthcare burden for Pakistan. The majority of people become infected through unsafe healthcare practices, often without being aware of it. If left untreated, chronic hepatitis carriers are at risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer, which contribute to 96% the mortality rate associated with hepatitis B and C infections.2
To curb the disease burden, the Pakistani government announced the Prime Minister's hepatitis elimination program with an ambitious goal to screen 138 million people by 2030. Accomplishing this is momentous change will require a concerted effort by the national government, local leadership, NGOs and healthcare companies.
Disease elimination programs are conceptually simple with a clear goal. However, their actual implementation is extraordinarily difficult.
In addition to establishing the right testing modality, other key challenges include improving access to testing centres, combating disease stigma, and building trust with the government. The right choice of partner can help make a significant impact.
In 2018, Roche began working with Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) as well as other agencies to eliminate hepatitis C. In a mere six months, 23 new fully automated, high-throughput molecular PCR systems were up and running in Egyptian health centres. Moreover, Roche support personnel helped train healthcare professionals to ensure the screening program operated correctly and aided in improving disease awareness.
Centralised testing with automated high-throughput systems can greatly improve workflow standardisation, reduce turnaround time and drive cost-efficiency for screening programs.
The Roche Molecular Work Area is ideally suited to addressing disease elimination challenges. This scalable solution ensures long-term sustainability and provides the flexibility to tackle other infectious diseases beyond hepatitis, such as tuberculosis and malaria.
In addition, specialised solutions for healthcare data analytics, simple sample collection and remote patient engagement combine innovative technology and deep healthcare expertise to support further disease prevention and management.
Roche Diagnostics Pakistan has a firm commitment to support the country in building a sustainable healthcare system.
The opportunity for collaborative partnership with private and public sector institutes could allow an even greater number of people access to high-quality testing solutions. By working together, Roche Diagnostics Pakistan can take an even more active role in helping Pakistan protect its people from the burden of infectious disease.
1. World Health Organization. Pakistan: Prevention and control of hepatitis. http://www.emro.who.int/pak/programmes/prevention-a-control-of-hepatitis.html. Accessed February 23, 2021.
2. World Health Organization. Regional action plan for the implementation of the global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2017–2021. https://extranet.who.int/iris/restricted/bitstream/handle/10665/258729/EMROPUB_2017_EN_19931.pdf. Accessed March 1, 2021.