ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202308.1060.v1
Subject: Public Health And Healthcare, Public, Environmental And Occupational Health Keywords: Pakistan; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis C; Elimination; Prevalence; Screening; Refugees
Online: 15 August 2023 (09:31:50 CEST)
Hepatitis B and C are major health issues in developing countries such as Pakistan and Afghan-istan. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and effectiveness of a screening program for hepatitis B and C in a region with no existing programs, and to estimate their prev-alence in the general population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, as well as in Afghan refugees or migrants. A retrospective cohort study was done in the general population of Peshawar and its adjacent districts, as well as migrants from neighboring provinces of Afghani-stan, who presented to our tertiary-care health facility. A Microsoft Excel registry was created for data collection, which were analyzed using IBM SPSS via descriptive analysis, normal distribution curve histograms, and chi-squared tests. A total of 9563 individuals were screened for hepatitis (5894 males and 3669 females), including Afghan migrants in Peshawar and surrounding districts. 876 individuals tested positive for hepatitis, with 538 positive for hepatitis B (383 males and 155 females) and 330 positive for hepatitis C (198 males and 134 females). Eight individuals had a hepatitis B and C co-infection. Among the study population, the prevalence rates were 2.2% for hepatitis B and 2.3% for hepatitis C, of which the Afghan migrants accounted for 2.7% and 0.5%, respectively. According to the gender-based distribution, hepatitis B was more prevalent in males, whereas there was no significant gender-based difference for hepatitis C. Our results highlight the need for a comprehensive approach to control hepatitis B and C in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Increased awareness, improved healthcare, and preventive measures such as screening and elimination programs to prevent severe liver diseases and eradicate hepatitis are necessary.