16 out of 64 people hepatitis test positive ISLAMABAD: A medical camp held at a slum in the federal capital yielded shocking results after its organisers found that 25pc of the slum’s residents had tested positive for hepatitis. According to official estimates, 8pc of the country’s population suffers from the disease.
Dr Abdul Rashid, who spent the day at the camp in Mehrabadi, near F-11, speculated that the reason behind the high number of hepatitis patients was bad quality water, the presence of quacks at the slum, and a lack of awareness.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver cancer. The most common cause of the disease are hepatitis viruses, but infections and toxic subjects like alcohol and drugs, as well as some diseases, can also cause hepatitis.
The medical camp in Mehrabadi was organised by the National Party (NP), to provide free medical treatment to the slum residents.
NP sets up medical camp in Mehrabadi slum near F-11
A total of 270 patients visited the camp for various reasons. Of them, 64 were tested for hepatitis, and 16 (25pc) tested positive for the disease. All the patients who tested positive were over the age of 30.
Dr Rashid, a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, told Dawn that in some parts of Punjab medical camps have found around 40pc of the people they tested to test positive for hepatitis. He said it was shocking that even in the federal capital, 25pc of the people they tested could be affected by the disease.
“I believe the major reason for the disease is the use of unclean water. If we hold camps in all the slums we will see more or less the same result. There are water filtration plants in the capital’s sectors, but no one has bothered to establish water filtration plants in the slums. Because of which, people have no option but to drink contaminated water.”
He added: “The government and philanthropists should invest some funds to provide clean drinking water to slum residents; otherwise the problem will increase further. Clean residences and [a clean] environment should also be provided to slum residents.”
In response to a question, Dr Rashid said the majority of slum resident did not have access to qualified doctors, and were forced to rely on quacks for medical treatment.
“Quacks never use sterilised equipment for treatment. Some even use one syringe to inject medication into several patients. Steps should be taken to raise awareness among slum residents because they are vulnerable to disease,” he said.
Mehrabadi resident Mohammad Saleem, whose wife tested positive for hepatitis, told Dawn there was no proper sewerage system in the locality, and many people relied in water from boring which was not good for their health.
“There is no system to clean the area. We know there are health hazards, but we don’t have any other choice; we can’t afford to live somewhere else,” he said.
Zulfiqar Ali, who runs a catering business, also tested positive for hepatitis, but he said he would be tested again because he was not sure he was suffering from the disease.
NP Punjab President Ayub Malik said he chose to set up medical camps in slums to ease the suffering of slum residents. He added: “We will hold medical camps in different slums to provide health facilities and treatment to patients. We will also try to arrange medicines for free or at nominal rates because otherwise, diseases will be complicated further.”