Dr. Thelma King Thiel, Chairwoman and CEO of Hepatitis Foundation International joins fight against Hepatitis in Pakistan

Hepatitis in Pakistan Project- Forum for Justice and Democracy in Pakistan

Press Release – Washington, DC: A special session of core group of supporters of “Hepatitis in Pakistan Project” was held by the Forum for Justice and Democracy in Pakistan, in a local restaurant in Washington DC Metro area on Saturday, December 20, 2008. Dr. Thelma King Thiel, Chairwoman, and Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis Foundation International was invited as a keynote speaker. The session was facilitated by forum’s Chief Organizer Mr. Iqbal Tareen.

In an open and informal conversation with the group, Dr. Thiel pledged her cooperation and support in the fight against Hepatitis in Pakistan. She praised the convergence of various individuals and advocacy groups on the Forum and assured of her continued cooperation for this cause.

Dr. Thiel cited decades of experience and accomplishments of her foundation in creating awareness and educating the educator in USA and worldwide. Hepatitis Foundation International plays vital role in working with US Government, Congress, and global organizations in influencing public policy. Dr. Thiel has been highly instrumental in creating local and global awareness about the threat of this epidemic.

In her presentation Dr. Thiel emphasized the need for investing time and resources in awareness and education of doctors, nurses, and all health related workers about the causes and prevention of Hepatitis. She mentioned that even in countries like USA, many medical professionals are not fully aware of basic facts about Hepatitis. She

stressed a need for simplistic audio-video educational tools for children as well as adults. Dr. Thiel assured host and members of “Hepatitis in Pakistan Project” of her cooperation and knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing to be adopted in local languages by and for local communities in Pakistan.

Dr. Thiel reiterated her willingness and need for working very closely with members and leadership of “Hepatitis in Pakistan Project” to look into the ways how her Foundation can help governments and NGOs in Pakistan to fight this epidemic.

Forum’s Chief Organizer, Mr. Iqbal Tareen reiterated vision of the organization to work as a credible and effective facilitating platform between international donors and support groups and governmental and non-governmental organizations on the ground in Pakistan. He also mentioned how past US Aid and foreign support for similar causes have been reduced to either employment creation or money making opportunities without significantly addressing the real problem. Mr. Tareen said that it is the mission of this group to become strong vigilante for the people of Pakistan and make sure of the transparency and accountability of every effort and resource used for this purpose.

Dr. Thelma Thiel and Mr. Iqbal Tareen of the Forum for Justice and Democracy will form working groups to plan future plan of action including outreach programs aimed at both governments and NGOs in USA and Pakistan.

In an open session participants explored leading causes of Hepatitis in Pakistan, which included used Syringes, untested blood transfer, and used razor blades. Issues related to social stigma were also discussed. Manu people are still unwilling to disclose their infectious status with family and friends, which could become their immediate support groups. The fear of becoming an outcast remained to be a predominant reason for lack of communication between patient and his/her family and friends.

The meeting was concluded with an overwhelming consensus that the wining of war against Hepatitis was contingent upon on how seriously the government of Pakistan and its leadership at the top was willing tackle the threat of Hepatitis in Pakistan. The group urged governments of Pakistan in Islamabad and in the provinces to treat Hepatitis as a real and immediate national security threat. This matter should be fought at the war footings.

In concluding statement Mr. Tareen expressed his gratitude for a positive and massive response by individuals, government officials, journalists, and organizations in Pakistan and overseas to our effort. He specifically thanked Dr. Zulfikar Ali Gorar (Provincial Coordinator (Sindh), National Program for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis in Pakistan) for his consistent and timely support and Mir Salim Raza for being a valuable supporter and global promoter of our effort.

Those who participated in the session were Ms. Khurshid Shaikh (Electrologist) , Dr. Fauzia Deeba (Development Consultant, Physician, and Director of World Sindhi Institute), Dr. Jawed Manzoor, President of Pakistan People’s Party (Washington DC Metro Area); Dr. Badar Shaikh (Research Scientist), Dr. Siddiqullah Tareen (Professor ENT, President PEN Foundation, Balochistan) , Mr. Aijaz Abro (Media and Marketing Consultant), Mr. Jawaid Bhutto (Human Services Specialist), and Mr. Khalid Hashmani (Computer Consultant and Former President, Sindhi Association of North America)

December 20, 2008

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