Nigeria: WHO supports Nigeria to create public awareness on viral hepatitis

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) – Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) are leading other stakeholders to create more awareness on viral hepatitis and give nationwide visibility to eliminate the deadly disease in Nigeria, the WHO Regional Office for Africa said Thursday.

According to WHO, which supported Nigeria to develop and launch a national policy, strategic plan, treatment guidelines and training documents for viral hepatitis, the West African country has a high burden of viral hepatitis B and C at a prevalence rate of 11.2% and 2.0% respectively.

The UN agency disclosed that Lagos, Taraba, Rivers and Nassarawa have also established  state-level programmes to tackle the disease among their  residents.

Already, the country has high hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination coverage among children although birth-dose coverage is sub-optimal. Screening and vaccination coverage among adults remains unsatisfactorily low due to a lack of awareness among the general populace and health workers, low coverage of testing facilities, high cost of laboratory investigations and medications for those needing treatment.

To amplify the campaign towards elimination of the disease, WHO said that week-long activities were conducted to commemorate the 2017 World Hepatitis Day with the theme, ‘Eliminate Hepatitis’ across the country.

At the launch of the awareness campaign in Abuja, Health Minister Isaac Adewole observed that “awareness of the disease is gathering momentum however a lot more needs to be done”.

According to him, the Federal government is committed to making available hepatitis preventive and treatment services in all health care facilities. He therefore urged the media to scale up dissemination of correct hepatitis information for widespread enlightenment.

The minister advised all Nigerians to get tested for hepatitis and those found to be negative, to get vaccinated, while those with the infection should be treated.

Nigeria provides HBV vaccination as part of the national immunization schedule for children and adults. In addition, the country screens for HBV and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in all donated blood for transfusion and has a policy for injection safety, which is enforced in all health care facilities.

Adewole called on WHO, the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology of Nigeria and CHAI not to relent in providing technical and financial contributions for the fight against the disease.

Technical experts and community-based organization used the occasion to call on the WHO to expand assistance to the country in its fight against the disease by leveraging on the available HIV infrastructures in order to reduce cost of treatment for patients.

Dr Rex Mpazanje, who represented WHO, commended the Nigerian government in its effort towards elimination of viral hepatitis. He eulogized the technical experts and other stakeholders for their efforts, and urged for more advocacy efforts in that regard.

Mpazanje maintained that there is need to build capacity of health workers at all levels to cope with demand for screening and vaccination services.

According to WHO, five strains of the virus, Hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV, HC), hepatitis D virus (HDV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV) are responsible for most cases of viral hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver due to a viral infection.

All the viruses can cause acute hepatitis, but only HBV and HCV frequently cause chronic hepatitis, which can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and primary liver cancer.
-0- PANA AR 3Aug2017

03 Agosto 2017 17:51:42

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