Pakistan has the second highest prevalence of hepatitis C in the region, which leads to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, cancer and death, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
The availability of cost-effective rapid diagnostic tests and DAA (direct-acting antiviral) tablets has revolutionized the roll-out of hepatitis C testing and treatment, which can now be offered in primary and secondary care settings.
In an effort to integrate private providers to address the disparity in access to hepatitis C virus diagnosis and treatment, the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, in partnership with the Aga Khan University and the Asian Development Bank, hosted a consultative dialogue with provincial and federal programs on “Programmatic Options for Engaging Private Providers to Complement Hepatitis C Services”.
The main objectives of the webinar were to solicit federal and provincial deliberations on the policy document in order to contextualize the options within the respective national and provincial strategies. According to the Federal Director General of Health, Dr. Rana Safdar, “Public-private partnership approaches to health can enable the expansion of affordable access to early detection, screening, case notification and treatment. treatment, thereby helping the government to achieve national goals”.
The four models for data sharing and strategic purchasing were presented during the webinar by Professor Shehla Zaidi of the Aga Khan University’s Department of Community Health Sciences to contribute to federal and provincial goals. The technical assistance needed by the public sector to engage services from private providers was identified, as well as the need for digitized reporting systems and standardized national indicators.
Keynote speakers for the webinar included Dr. Huma Qureshi, National Hepatitis Program Focal Point, Prof. Saeed Hamid and Dr. Sameen Siddiqi from AKU, Dr. Hassan Mahmood from the Federal Program, Dr. Zulfiqar Dharejo from Sindh Director Intergated Program from KP, Dr Shoaib Kurd from Balochistan, Dr Zunaira from Punjab and Dr Munir Abro from Asian Development Bank.