Tassawar Ali is a development practitioner who has been working in the humanitarian sector for the last 8 years. Initially, his focus was on adolescent and child health but he soon started working with HIV and harm reduction through Rutgers, an international centre of expertise in sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).
In this month’s Supporter Spotlight, Tassawar Ali tells NOhep how he moved from his initial focus in healthcare into addressing viral hepatitis in Pakistan, which has the second highest global burden of hepatitis C. Around 5% of the population is infected with hepatitis C, with many patients unaware of their status:
“I realised the high prevalence of hepatitis C in Pakistan is the biggest single issue. I joined Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) in 2014 and Hep C Karachi was the first project which started treatment in a PHC setting. This program was designed with an integrated approach, whereby patients were not only getting treatment but were also getting life style counselling as well.
Our Health Promotion Department is a focal point for outreach in local communities. The Health Promotion Department’s community approach is more inclusive as regards high risk groups. We include all neglected population, including: undocumented migrants, people who inject drugs, barbers, traditional birth attendants and both formal and informal fish factory workers.
Furthermore, our Health Promotion Department organised a universal screening camp on World Hepatitis Day and found 30% prevalence in the community. Currently we are screening each individual as part of a unit; this is called a household screening and treatment program.
Our wider mission is to transfer our professional knowledge to the local community and to develop their staff’s capacity to screen and treat patient at the primary health care level.
We believe that in 2030 we want to see our country Hep C free. For achieving this we have established good relationships with PSSLD (Paktistan Society for Studies of Liver Disease) and together we are driving work to eliminate Hep C from Pakistan.”
Thank you Tassawar for your committed work in Pakistan and for your on the ground work to help achieve both micro and macro elimination of hepatitis by 2030! Are you getting ready for World Hepatitis Day 2019? Check out what Tassawar and many other people got up to in 2018 for some inspiration!