Experts identified hepatitis as the major cause of liver diseases in the country that could pose a serious public health threat. Citing study they said around eight per cent of the country’s total population is infected with hepatitis B virus, while below one per cent with hepatitis C virus. About 25 per cent of liver cancer is caused by hepatitis B virus only.
They also said that 31 to 85 per cent of new-borns suffer from hepatitis B infection transmitted from mother during the last trimester of pregnancy.
The Liver Centre organised the press conference to mark the ‘World Hepatitis Day’ aiming to raise awareness among the public about the risk posed by hepatitis B and C.
Presenting his keynote speech, virologist Prof Nazrul Islam stressed the need for creating mass awareness about hepatitis B and C viruses to prevent various deadly diseases.
Suffering from hepatitis B for a long time increases the risk of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure, but it’s preventable, he added.
He also called on the government and non-government organisations to come forward to address the issue with an emphasis to arrange screening of pregnant women as the deadly disease transmits to babies through mothers.
Saying that the disease is transmitted by blood, Nazrul Islam said people should make sure while donating or injecting blood whether or not it is affected with Hepatitis B virus.
The virus can also be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact as study found 9.7 per cent hepatitis B in sex workers.
Of the haemodialysis patients, 12 per cent are hepatitis B positive, Nazrul Islam said, adding, it can be avoided through safe transfusion of blood.
His research data also says hepatitis B and C viruses can move easily through the health services due to lack of universal precautionary measures for the patients.
He also slammed dentists for not taking proper sterile measures. Dentistry is one of the main sources of hepatitis B and C, he said.
Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination, but hepatitis C can’t. Precaution is the only why to prevent hepatitis C.
Another statistics quoted at the Press conference said hospitalised patients with hepatitis and jaundice account for around 43 per cent with hepatitis E virus, 22 per cent hepatitis B, eight per cent A and three per cent with hepatitis C virus. Another 24 per cent hepatitis with jaundice the virus is yet to be unidentified.
Speaking as the guest speaker, hepatologist Prof Nooruddin Ahmed of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) said, people in poor countries suffer from hepatitis A and E due to lack of personal hygiene.
He advised parents to be cautious about their children as 90 per cent hepatitis A cases remains asymptomatic. “If a child catches cold or feels fever, parents should take it seriously,” he suggested.
Scorching summer and incessant rainy days encourage hepatitis E as this virus transmits though contaminated food and drinks, he also said.
Attending the programme as the chief guest, National Professor Dr Nurul Islam urged the health practitioners to stop unnecessary blood transfusion and administration of intravenous (IV) saline.
He observed that to create a false sense of security hospitals start an IV saline to a patient as soon as he arrives.
“It can cause infection, if the needle is not sterile. At the same time, unscreened blood can also transmit hepatitis viruses,” he said.
He also emphasised on disseminating health education among the people.
Chaired by Dr Mobin Khan, Dr A K M Khorshed Alam of BSMMU, among others, spoke at the conference held at Jatiya Press Club.
A group of virologists and hepatologists of the country is going to undertake a project in four remote villages under Dinajpur district to identify hepatitis B positive mothers through screening, to give their child vaccine at birth, the press conference was told.