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World facing pandemic of obesity along with Covid-19, warn experts

In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is also facing a pandemic of obesity, which has been taking more lives as compared to the coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over four million people are dying annually as result of being overweight or obese, top gastroenterologists said on Sunday.

“Covid-19 and obesity are two pandemics being faced by the world simultaneously, and, unfortunately, obesity is killing more people in the world as compared to the viral infectious disease,” said Prof Wasim Jafri in his state-of-the-art lecture on “Covid-19 GI and Liver Manifestation” at the 3rd Annual Virtual Conference of Pak GI and Liver Disease Society (PGLDS).

Top gastroenterologists from various medical varsities and health facilities in Pakistan as well as from India, Azerbaijan and other countries of the world made their presentations on various aspects of gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, their management, prevention and treatment, and called for enhancing the awareness among the masses to focus on preventive measures.

During the conference, new office-bearers of the GI society were also announced, and, according to the PGLDS, Prof Dr Lubna Kamani, associated with the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) became the first woman president of the GI society, while Dr Nazish Butt from Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) was elected vice president of the society.

Prof Dr Amanullah Abbasi was elected general secretary of the PGLDS, Dr Hafeezullah Shaikh, as publication secretary, while three chapters — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab chapters — were also included in the society. Prof Wasim Jaffri said obesity was alarmingly on the rise in the world and now it was the second pandemic that had gripped the world along with Covid-19. He added that liver failure cases were globally on the rise due to the pandemic of obesity.

He spoke on different aspects of Covid-19, especially its effects on liver, and said acute liver injury had been seen in at least nine per cent of the patients hospitalised with severe infection of the coronavirus. Prof Jaffri said those who fortunately survive also face significant damage to their livers.

Calling for vaccination as a top priority, he said the Hepatitis B vaccine was introduced in 1969, but despite its availability for the last several decades, the viral disease was still posing a serious health challenge in the world. He called for spreading awareness about the importance of Covid-19 vaccination to contain the pandemic as early as possible.

President PGLDS Dr Lubna Kamani thanked the members of the PGLDS for electing her the first female president of the GI society in Pakistan and vowed that under her leadership and guidance as well as with the support from other members, the society would train new gastroenterologists and provide better treatment opportunities to the people of Pakistan in their respective cities and towns.

Hoping that Covid-19 vaccine would soon be available for every citizen in Pakistan and make the 2021 a lot better year as compared to the previous year, she spoke on “Hepatitis C treatment in special population”, and hoped that this disease would be eliminated by 2030 with concerted efforts and enthusiasm by the gastroenterologists.

Patron PGLDS Prof Dr Shahid Ahmed thanked the speakers from various countries of the world for taking out time and making their presentations, while outgoing PGLDS President Dr Sajjad Jamil, newly elected VP Dr Nazish Butt, Dr Amanullah Abbassi, Dr Muhammad Kamran, Dr Hasnain Ali Shah, Dr Jibran Umer from KP, Dr Daud Gilzai from Balochistan, Dr Nasir Luck, Dr Amna Subhan, Dr Nauman Zakir, and others also spoke.

Two leading Indian doctors — Dr Ajay Kumar Duseja and Dr Anil Arora — also addressed the conference, while Dr Gulnara from Azerbaijan, Dr Nadeem Tehami from the UK and Dr Sharmila from Malaysia also spoke.

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