Peregraf exposes health hazard in Kurdistan Region

08-04-2019 07:19

Peregraf- Haval Zangana

With the intention of getting his tooth extracted, Xalil visited a dental clinic where he contracted millions of viruses instead, which mainly attacked his liver. Consequently, he had been suffering from a terrible pain for several months.

Three years ago, he had not even caught a cold, nor had to receive any blood transfusion, let alone having undergone any surgery that might have transmitted diseases. He simply had one tooth extracted at a dental clinic.

45-year-old Xalil said "when I went to have my tooth extracted, I failed to observe that the place did not meet the required standards. The doctor used the same tools which he had previously used for another patient, therefore I am absolutely sure that caused me to become infected with the disease."

According to an investigation by Peregraf and also supported by medical researches and instructions from the Ministry of Health, if medical tools and equipment are not properly cleaned and sterilized, they can be the main reason for transmitting hepatitis.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a lifelong illness. The hepatitis C virus is a blood borne virus and the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood. This may happen through the sharing of the same syringe for injection while taking drugs, unsafe injection practices, unsafe heath care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

The development of the disease in Xalil’s life began when he visited a doctor for an operation. In the tests prior to the operation, it was found that he had viral hepatitis. Therefore, the doctor canceled the operation until he was given the necessary treatments.

According to the tests, Xalil was found to be carrier of HBV and has more than 2500000 viruses in his body. Therefore, he was immediately put under monitoring.

Based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) reports, HCV is transmitted through blood, saliva, sexual intercourse, and medical equipment if they are inadequately sterilized.

No vaccine exist so far to protect the human body from the virus.

Didar Rzgar, an internist and gastroenterologist, explains to Peregraf that type B and C are most dangerous as they will remain in the body and can be transmitted to others through blood, unprotected sexual intercourse, infected needles, and bleeding at childbirth can cause the disease to be transmitted from a mother to a child (or when breastfeeding) but it is not transmitted through air.

"For the hepatitis B virus, the infected person does not find out as it has no signs."

The doctor stated that dental clinics are one of the main reasons for spreading the virus and she has had many cases of the infection originating from dental clinics.

"The dental surgeons have a large number of patients so they cannot catch up with sterilizing their equipment."

According to the WHO, 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection and approximately 399000 people die each year from the virus. 15% to 45% of the patients can stop the virus from functioning within the first six months. But 55% to 85% of the infected people have the chronic type.

Xalil Sadiq, who is married and suffered for several months from the disease, was given 28 injections for 28 weeks throughout the treatment course and he had to buy a tablet that costed him 200000 IQD for each packet.

While he was following his treatment for the virus, he was suffering from hemorrhoid at the same time because of the virus, no doctor was ready to do the operation. "I was ready to pay a lot of money just to have the operation; I could not sit because of the hemorrhoid. The doctors told me that the equipment should be thrown away after the operation. Eventually, a doctor did the operation and I asked him to throw away the equipment and I would pay for them. But he said that he would sterilize them by boiling." Said Xalil

Hepatitis treatments vary according to the type of the virus. Some of them need no treatment but people with type C and B are given antivirus drugs in accordance to the density and status of the virus.

Dr Didar states that if the person has not been exposed to the virus for a long time, the treatment rate will increase and if the disease is not treated, the liver will start to decay and it might lead to hepatic cancer.

According to health instructions, personal hygiene, cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment before surgeries, blood tests, avoiding unprotected sex and receiving quick treatments are the ways to prevent the disease.

Bestwn Omar, a physician and an owner of a dental clinic told Peregraf "because the government does not monitor the clinics, 80% to 90% of the virus can be transmitted in dental centers, so it all depends on the conscience of the doctors"

"The government has the potential to monitor the health facilities and prevent them from discarding unclean cottons and needles in household trash bins that eventually will be a cause for transmitting the disease to cleaners. 99% of the doctors are not following infection control instructions, so the government is indifferent to this case."

The doctor states that they cannot impose on patients to do the virus tests and he discloses that autoclaves cannot control the virus completely because the equipment are made of plastic and cannot be inserted into it, instead "they are put in some liquid disinfectants."

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan Region, 597 cased of hepatitis B virus were recorded last year. 270 of them were from Duhok, 197 of them were from Erbil and 190 of them were from Sulaymaniyah.

Regarding the monitoring of dental clinics in Kurdistan Region, Xals Qadr, the spokesperson from the Ministry of Health, told Peregraf "the monitoring committees of the Ministry of Health are monitoring dental clinics and they are sanctioned if they do not have sterilization facilities."

If the patients are taking their medicines properly they can avoid most of the risks of the disease.

Xalil Sadiq was taking his medicines according to the instructions and he could get rid of the virus. But the viruses have not been completely eliminated, but have only stopped functioning and as Xalil said, according to the doctors there is only a small chance for their revival.