KARACHI: The Hepatitis Centers run by the Hepatitis Prevention & Control Program Sindh across Sindh have been facing a grave shortage of Hepatitis C medication for the past several months as the Sindh Health Department failed to supply the centres with the required drugs.
Thousands of newly screened hepatitis C patients have been put on waiting all over the Sindh province by consultants due to the ongoing shortage of medicines at the Hepatitis Centers. The newly registered patients at these Hepatitis Centers, including Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, and other government hospitals, are not being provided with medicines that are used to treat hepatitis C since the last several months, which is causing distress to the patients.
The Hepatitis Centre at the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi is registering 40 to 50 new hepatitis C patients daily. However, the patients have been put on hold due to a shortage of medication.
The hepatitis C patients in Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, and other districts of the province are visiting the Hepatitis Centers to get medicines; however, doctors are asking them to buy drugs from private medical stores as no drug available in these Centers. The shortage of drugs has gravely affected the program’s performance as the treatment of hepatitis patients is very costly, and a large number of patients cannot afford its treatment costs. The shortage of medicines has put the lives of patients at risk.
More than 61 Treatment Centres were established at teaching, district, and tehsil hospital levels, providing screening, vaccination diagnostic, and treatment services. However, only 17 screening and vaccination centres are working and providing screening and vaccination against hepatitis B.
Media Coordinator, Hepatitis Prevention & Control Program, Sindh, Khurram Khan, said that the supply of medicines used to treat hepatitis C patients had been suspended due to the unavailability of drugs. He informed that these medicines are obtained through a centralized procurement system and that hepatitis B drugs are available at Centers and only hepatitis C medicines are not available.