It’s World Hepatitis Day: Here’s what that means to a family in Pakistan
Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver causing inflammation and even liver failure. However, with access to modern medicine, Hepatitis C can be easily cured. Most times, proper access to the correct medication is oftentimes unavailable to those who need it the most. Noor Alam is one of the patients who were able to receive care and the first become cured at the Machar project. His journey was not an easy one.
Noor was originally a fisherman in the Machar Colony, Saddam Chowk, an area of Karachi, Pakistan. It is here he worked until he became too ill to. Suffering from severe pain, he went to a local clinic and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
In order to afford treatment Noor had to sell his house, however, the treatment he was given was ineffective and his condition worsened. His status as an immigrant from Bangladesh barred him from receiving the advanced care from the government health system.
Noor heard about the MSF clinic in Machar, he visited the clinic and was soon after added to the treatment program. During his time of treatment, he would have to send his eldest three children (girls) to work in the shrimp peeling market so that the family would have food for the day. The girls were unable to continue their education because of this. One bucket of shrimps can take up to one hour to peel generating 20 Pakistani Rupees (USD0.19). They work for a minimum of six hours a day.
Among the 1.5 million people living with Hepatitis C, Stories like Noor’s is one heard too often. Many others go through what Noor does and oftentimes treatment is not available. For the worst cases, they become a part of the 700,000 who die each year. No vaccines exist against the virus, treatments are available, but in France alone, it costs $40,000 to just treat one patient, the equivalent to what a person would make in their lifetime in some countries.
Today is #WorldHepatitisDay, affordable care must be made available for all. Each year hundreds and thousands die from unnecessarily high pricing from pharmaceutical companies. Access to the lifesaving medication and treatments, ultimately out of reach to them.