Yasmeen Haider Baloch was diagnosed with hepatitis C by a local doctor in her native town of Malir. At the end of a six-month course of treatment, her symptoms such as mouth ulcers and stomach and backaches continued unabated. Yasmeen had not been cured.
In January 2014, Yasmeen was referred to Dr Rustum at the Aga Khan University Hospital. As she is financially dependent on her nephew (a mechanic with a small business), Yasmeen could not afford further treatment for hepatitis. However Dr Rustum forwarded her case to a patient welfare officer at AKUH. Through the support of both Dr Rustum and the patient welfare officer, Yasmeen underwent another course of treatment for hepatitis C. She received 48 injections of interferon and continued to visit Dr Rustum regularly for consultations and lab and radiology investigations to monitor the progress of the treatment. Of the total cost of her treatment (over Rs 431,134), 84 per cent was borne by welfare. At the end of 12 months, tests revealed that Yasmeen was finally free from hepatitis. She has been asked to return every three months to monitor her condition and ensure that the virus does not return.
During the course of her treatment, Yasmeen was guided on the changes that were required in her diet and lifestyle. Her patience and dedication helped her overcome this deadly illness, as did the support of the Patients’ Behbud Society and Welfare Programme. Yasmeen says:
“The doctors, medical team, patient welfare officer and staff are very helpful, well-spoken and courteous”.
“Timely diagnosis and cure is very important, because hepatitis can eventually lead to cancer. The disease has few symptoms, so without a test, it is impossible to diagnose. The longer the patient waits and remains unaware, the greater the risk”, she says.