Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has urged federal and state governments to give serious consideration to upward review of annual budgetary allocation to Federal and States Ministries of Health.
The former head of state, who is also the National Goodwill Ambassador for the Control of Viral Hepatitis in Nigeria, stated this at the 2018 World Hepatitis Day Commemoration with the theme: “Test. Treat. Hepatitis is a task that must be done,” organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, in Abuja, yesterday.
He said that the budgetary allocation should be reviewed to a benchmark that can reduce the burden of viral hepatitis. He also seeks its inclusion in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to improve the quality and access to medical facilities across the country.
Gowon also urged the federal government to come up with a National Treatment Programme to tackle viral hepatitis and utilise the ongoing Nigeria AIDS Indicators and Impact Survey (NAIIS) to determine the viral hepatitis burden in the country.
In his address, the minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said that with support from partners and other stakeholders, Nigeria has made significant progress in the control of Viral Hepatitis.
Some of the key achievements, according to him, include the inauguration of a Technical Working Group (TWG) in 2013, to provide technical guidance for the implementation of hepatitis control, advocacy and resource mobilisation.
“I must add that policy documents like the National Guideline for the Management of Viral Hepatitis and a five year National Strategic Plan (2016-2020) have been developed to give the national response the strategic direction it deserves. With support from WHO, the National Directory on Viral Hepatitis has been developed to further improve access to care,” he explained.
Adewole informed that the Federal Ministry of Health has been working with partners and pharmaceutical companies to facilitate the provision of anti-viral drugs for the management of Hepatitis B and the treatment of Hepatitis C at the lowest possible price.
According to him, the ministry recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Gilead Pharmaceutical to provide drugs for the treatment and cure for Hepatitis C. “We must all know our status. Everyone must go to the nearby facility and get screened; it takes less than 15 minutes to do this. Save your liver today,” he urged.
The minister however regretted that the knowledge of VH remains low even though it is a leading cause of death. He said as a result, most Nigerians living with VH B or C are undiagnosed, increasing the likelihood of transmission to others.
This, he said, also places the individual at the greater risk of severe, even fatal health complications such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
He thanked the former head of state for his leadership role over the years, particularly in driving advocacy and resource mobilisation for the control programme. “I also salute all our development partners, civil society organisations and every dedicated Nigerian health worker for their efforts and support towards the realisation of our set targets.”
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