PM announces setting up country’s first liver transplant centre

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday announced setting up of country’s first liver transplant centre in Islamabad to be completed by year 2011.Addressing the launching ceremony of country-wide mass awareness campaign against Hepatitis, the Prime Minister said establishment of liver transplant centre was in line with government’s efforts to provide health facilities to people at their doorsteps.The liver transplant centre will be setup at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), for which the Prime Minister announced a Rs 200 million one-time grant.
The centre will be looked after under the Prime Minister’s Programme for Prevention and control of Hepatitis.The Prime Minister said the centre would facilitate the patients who had to travel abroad for treatment due to unavailability of liver transplant centre in the country.He said the common practice of unnecessary use of injections must be discouraged to control the spread of hepatitis. He said there was a need to educate the masses regarding the ill-effects of irrational and unnecessary administration of injections which is causing the spread of deadly diseases including Hepatitis B & C.
Gilani stressed for creating awareness among masses on adopting the approach that ‘prevention is better than treatment’.He said the focus of Prime Minister’s Programme for Prevention and control of Hepatitis was going to shift from treatment to prevention, however said his government was aware of the miseries of those suffering from end stage of liver disease, for whom the only hope was liver transplant.He said the programme instilled a sense of urgency in fight against hepatitis and was reflective of a firm resolve to counter the challenge posed by the disease which was spreading fast.He said though the thrust of the strategy under the new programme is on preventive services, a special provision is being made available to provide free of cost treatment to the selected high-risk, the deserving and the poor who would otherwise have little hope of any treatment.Realizing the importance and magnitude of this public health problem, Gilani said the programme had been up-scaled by the government raising the allocation from Rs 2.59 billion to over Rs 13.904 billion.
He urged the provincial governments to align their programmes with the federal strategy and allocate additional resources for the initiative.

He said under the Prime Minister’s Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis, treatment was being provided to those displaced during the floods.He said it was an achievement that affected were reached and provided life saving treatment by the programme.The Prime Minister said ensuring safe blood for the people was an essential imperative to controlling the spread of blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B and C and HIV-AIDS.“Our government has ensured that only auto disable syringes are used as part of both Hepatitis Control and EPI Programmes.  This is a vital step in stopping the spread of blood-borne infectious diseases through re-use of syringes,” he added.He said awareness is the key to changing behaviours and a major component in Prime Minister’s Hepatitis Prevention and Control Programme was dedicated to working with the communities, high risk groups and different stakeholders to change practices and behaviours that are responsible for the spread of different forms of hepatitis.

He said the experience during the flood situation had highlighted the need for a robust disease surveillance and response system.He expressed satisfaction over the integrated surveillance and response system being introduced by the Ministry of Health, which he said would will keep a close eye on infectious diseases across the country and initiate an early response when required.He said in line with Pakistan peoples Party’s manifesto, the government had assigned highest priority to the health sector. He mentioned the network of lady health workers and community midwives across the country providing the first line of defence against disease, in line with the vision of Shaheed leader Motharma Benazir Bhutto.The Prime Minister appreciated the role played by the health sector in meeting the challenge in the wake of recent floods. Both preventive and curative services worked in synergy to ensure that there was no epidemic in the flood-stricken areas.
Federal Minister of Health Makhdoom Shahbuddin, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Dr. Mahreen Razzaque Bhutto and Federal Secretary Health Khushnood Akhtar Lashari were present.

Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin said the programs emphasis would be on prevention. He said the government was committed to improve the health sector and efforts were underway to provide quality care to the masses across the country.Secretary Health said the Rs 2.5 billion programme was launched in 2005 aimed at curbing 50 per cent incidence of Hepatitis. The programme though did not achieve the desired objectives, but helped in better understanding of the problem and how to tackle it.He said the next phase would aim at curbing unsafe use of syringes and blood transfusion, besides declaring illegal manufacture, import and sale of unregistered syringes.Professor Aftab Mohsin, Programme Manager said Pakistan had around 15 million chronic Hepatitis cases and Liver Transplant was the only remedy – App