Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

International News
Pakistan: Risky Shots

May 15, 2013

Unnecessary injections, unsafe injection practices, and non-sterile syringes and needles are major factors contributing to the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Pakistan, according to Dr. Quaid Saeed, World Health Organization (WHO) national program officer on HIV and hepatitis. Other factors that contribute to the spread of the virus include poverty and illiteracy, roadside dentists' use of unsterilized equipment, and "contaminated blood transfusions," according to Saeed. Pakistan has had a Safe Blood Transfusion Act since 2002, but Saeed stated that only Punjab province has implemented the legislation fully. He estimated that Pakistan does not screen 40 percent of blood transfusions for HCV and HIV. Pakistan's laws do not regulate syringe use.

Although current data estimated that 2–3 percent of Pakistanis are hepatitis B carriers and 4–5 percent of Pakistanis carry HCV, Saeed believed the numbers would be higher if officials surveyed the whole population. Although some people infected with HCV recover, up to 80 percent may become chronic carriers, according to Saeed. In contrast, approximately 80 percent of hepatitis B-infected patients recover from the virus. WHO defines national hepatitis prevalence between 2–8 percent as an "intermediate" risk. Saeed noted that Pakistan has the highest prevalence of chronic liver disease in the world.

Dr. Aftab Mohsin, a leading Pakistani liver and gastroenterology physician, confirmed that dentists, medical practitioners, and "quacks" are responsible for syringe reuse and misuse. In addition, Dr. Arshad Altaf, Pakistani volunteer for WHO's Safety Injection Global Network, estimated that 90 percent of injections in Pakistan are unnecessary.

Mohsin stated that HCV treatment in Pakistan is "far worse" than syringe practice. Although HCV genotype 3 is the most prevalent form of HCV among Pakistani patients, most receive conventional interferon treatment instead of the preferred treatment of pegylated interferon.

Back to other news for May 2013

Excerpted from:

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.