Pakistan Has The Highest Number of Hepatitis C Infections in The World: WHO

Pakistan leads the world in viral hepatitis C infections, with a staggering 8.8 million cases, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO). Alarmingly, unsafe medical injections contribute to 44% of new hepatitis C infections in the country. Previously, Egypt had been the country with the highest number of hepatitis C and B cases, with Pakistan ranking closely behind. The figures from 187 countries show a rise in estimated deaths from viral hepatitis, increasing from 1.1 million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022. The report specifies that 83% of these deaths were due to hepatitis B, with hepatitis C accounting for the remaining 17%. When combining the cases of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, Pakistan ranks fifth globally, following China, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. In 2022, approximately 12.6 million cases were reported in Pakistan. According to the WHO's Global Hepatitis Report 2024, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Russian Federation are among the top ten countri es globally contributing to the burden of viral hepatitis B and C. The report highlights that six countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, and the US, account for half of the global burden of hepatitis C. However, Egypt stands out as the first country to attain gold-tier status in the journey toward hepatitis C elimination, meeting WHO criteria that position it to achieve reduced incidence and mortality targets for full elimination by 2030. The report also highlighted that as of December 2023, 16 countries have been validated for eliminating either HIV, syphilis, or HBV. Senior medical experts commenting on the report noted that in Pakistan, most patients are either diagnosed incidentally or become symptomatic when their illness progresses, often years after contracting the infection. Talking to a local media outlet, Dr. Masood Sheikh from the Lahore General Hospital said that Pakistan carries the second-largest burden of hepatitis C worldwide, with a nationwide preva lence rate of 4.8 percent. 'From 2015 to 2019, there was a 5pc increase in hepatitis C-related deaths and an 8pc increase in hepatitis B-related deaths,' he said. The transmission of the virus has increased significantly in Pakistan due to factors such as a lack of awareness about sterilization techniques, sharing personal items, and unsafe healthcare practices. Source: Pro Pakistani