Hepatitis is basically a liver disease where in our liver the main detoxifying organ of our body gets injured and as a result gets inflamed.
Inflammation is not only a painful swelling but a condition that impairs the normal functioning of an organ. Alcohol,drugs and viruses can cause hepatitis. The viruses responsible are A,B,C,D and E. the liver produces proteins in our body, It gets rid of unwanted toxins and stores glucose along with many other vital functions. When it gets affected not only are these functions impaired but the rest of our body functions including kidneys, brain and lungs get affected as well.
At the beginning what might appear as nausea,vomiting,fever, abdominal pain,weight loss,poor appetite,yellowing of skin,lethargy and dark urine with all symptoms of jaundice if left undetected and untreated can first evolve into a more severe form causing fluid accumulation in the lungs and limbs, and impair the brain. Before it turns into fatal liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are what are better known to as only jaundice where in the patient suffers from a short term illness and is cured completely in 2 to 3 weeks. These only cause fever and nausea and the person stays sick for a while .with medicines they are cured and back to normal. Contaminated food and unhygienic conditions being the main culprit as the route of transmission is oro fecal.
Hand washing and proper food handling with practices discouraging outside food and stressing the importance of sanitary hygiene is sufficient to prevent it .
Hepatitis B and C are what cause long term illness and are the silent killers. Hepatitis C is most common in our country. Thousands of people carry it not knowing it and spread it and this is what makes it an epidemic. Before they themselves discover it a decade later they have not only infected so many others but also this symptom less silent monster inside them has by then caused irreversible liver damage to them leading to liver cancer.
It is this awareness that is pivotal and the need of the hour. The common man needs to know how is this deadly disease spread and what are the precautions needed. Had fouad zara Abbas and Hussain known they would not be at the stage they are today. Hepatitis virus is transmitted via blood, semen,Saliva and other body fluids. Use of infected toothbrush,needles,blades,scissors and transfusion of infected blood, from an infected mother to her child and unprotected sexual intercourse. This is how Zara was pierced with an infected needle in her ears. The blade the barber used on Hussain while shaving his beard,the blood Abbas had arranged for his wife to be transfused with and the tattoo needle and escort fouad had encountered in his trip all were infected. Infected and carriers that sowed in them the seeds of this deadly killer . Little had they known how careful they should have been in using contaminated needles and blades they wouldn’t have met this fate. And even if they had acquired the virus a regular screening test with hepatitis B and C screening would have detected it in time. As part of as an annual check up,pre employment routine, pre admission requirement or even a general physical examination in a regular doctor’s visit could have identified the culprit in time . A course of oral medications or injectables called interferon would have cured them. A PCR polymerase chain reaction test would detect the quantity of virus left and establish the efficacy of the treatment and hence would have ensured that no more people were infected by the carriers and their own disease would never progress to such a grave level where they would lose not only life quality but would have to struggle to remain alive.
There is nothing more painful then helplessness in the face of death .
The turmoil of watching a loved one succumb to this and the incapacity to be able to snatch from life a few more moments to cherish is a test no one should have to endure.
Just a little awareness and timely screening with compliant treatment could have saved all these lives,ensured all these dreams.
We didn’t just lose aspiring professionals,great ideas,magnificent discoveries and beautiful families we lost life in the face of a disease that could so easily be prevented and cured.
The Qur’an repeatedly reads as God tries to tell us that there are signs for those of you who want to find . And we ignore them. Signs are right there speaking to us to take timely action but we in our oblivious ignorance wait till it’s too late to complain.
We at our lab are about hope. We are a mission. We are a health reform . A movement. We are here to help free Pakistan of this disease via tests,screening, vaccination, awareness and treatment . We are here as dream catchers to hold on to those innocent soaring ideas that need time and a fair chance in life to evolve into the butterflies they deserve to be . And we shall ensure that.
Let us today join hands to spread the word . To fight it back. To erase it from its core . Let us hand our children a hepatitis free healthy Pakistan….
Article By: Dr Tahira Shahid