Hepatitis is now affecting over 19 million people in Nigeria, according to Dr. Adebobola Bashorun, national coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Health’s NASCP (National AIDS and STDs Control Programme).
At a briefing held by the ministry to mark World Hepatitis Day this year, he made this statement on Friday in Abuja.
The commemoration’s slogan for this year is “One life, one liver.”
The disease hepatitis results in the liver’s tissues being inflamed or being damaged. A, B, C, D, and E are the five different kinds of viral hepatitis.
Bashorun claimed that just 60% of Nigerians are aware of hepatitis and that less than 50% are aware of their own condition.
We are attempting to raise awareness and demand for testing because of this, he continued. You should thus be aware of your own hepatitis status in addition to learning about it.
He said that adults can receive the vaccine to prevent hepatitis B, which is included in the normal immunization schedule for children.
To be fully immunized and receive a hepatitis B vaccination, the patient must first undergo screening; if the results are negative, the patient is then eligible for the vaccination, the doctor explained.
He said that the federal government has also created a 2022–2026 National Strategic Framework for Viral Hepatitis.
Dr. Olufunso Adebiyi, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, stated that viral hepatitis, particularly hepatitis B and C, continue to pose serious risks to the public’s health, with person-to-person transmission being facilitated by the lack of knowledge among medical professionals as well as by a general lack of awareness among the general public.
Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh, Director of Public Health, who was speaking on his behalf, claimed that these variables had caused stigmatization, delayed diagnoses, and greater death rates.
According to the 2018 National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), hepatitis B and C prevalence rates were reported at 8.1% and 1.1%, respectively, across the nation.
It is time for Nigeria to take a fresh approach to the fight against viral hepatitis, according to WHO Country Representative for Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo.
To promote greater availability and reach across the nation, he urged the federal government to include hepatitis services in the minimum service package of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHPF).
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While praising Nigeria for incorporating the hepatitis B vaccine for children on the regular immunization schedule, he noted that more work has to be done in order for the nation to meet the global goal of 90% by 2030.
More than 91 million Africans, according to Dr. Mulombo, are hepatitis-positive.
According to him, there were 125, 000 hepatitis-related fatalities in the African region in 2019 and a projected 1.2 million new cases of the disease, with mortality disproportionately affecting the young and economically active.
More than 90% of Africans living with hepatitis do not receive the care they require, and fewer than 10% of the population has access to testing and treatment, according to the WHO national representative, despite the availability of diagnostic technologies and efficient treatments.
In order to eliminate viral hepatitis, he urged partners and legislators to show the political will to continue and streamline hepatitis testing, prevention, and treatment as a component of general liver health and primary care.