The Hepatitis Zero, Nigeria Commission a Global Eradication Project initiative has said Nigeria is estimated to have the highest cases of Hepatitis B of the World at 12.2% which translates from 20 to 30 Million affected by the virus.
The president of the World Hepatitis Eradication Nigeria Commission Dr Mike Omotosho said this at a press conference held in Abuja.
Dr Omotosho said viral hepatitis is an international public health challenge, comparable to other major communicable diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Despite the significant burden it places on communities across all global regions, hepatitis has been largely ignored as a health and development priority until recently.
“It will no longer remain hidden, however, with the adoption of the resolution on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Target 3 is of particular relevance: it calls for specific action to combat viral hepatitis.
“Hepatitis B infection is a vaccine-preventable disease transmitted through infected blood, semen, and other body fluids.
“Hepatitis B Virus is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV with several modes of transmission; such as perinatal transmission from infected mother to child, unsafe sexual intercourse, transfusion of HBV-infected blood and blood products, unsafe medical procedures, sharing of needles and sharps and horizontally between children, as well as other intra-familial sources of infection.”
He explained that Hepatitis C infection is a blood borne virus 10 times more infectious than HIV with no currently available vaccine. The most common modes of transmission are through HCV- infected blood, unsafe medical procedures, and sharing of needles and sharps. Less common modes of transmission are sexual and perinatal transmission.
He noted that In Nigeria, Hepatitis is treated as an opportunistic infection that is common among HIV/AIDS patients and as such, it is not given the needed attention as a public health concern among the general population. Hence the low knowledge about Hepatitis in Nigeria. Studies have shown that Hepatitis B is common among children in Nigeria while A and C are common among young people. Not many civil society organizations and government MDAs make conscious effort to create awareness about Hepatitis as a standalone ailment.
He further said that the Hepatitis Zero Commission is focused on advocacy for hepatitis prevention and treatment to achieve zero cases in Nigeria as a contribution to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) June 2016 global health sector strategy, owing to the relative public health burden that hepatitis represent .
To this effect, the Nigerian Commission of World Hepatitis Eradication Initiative in collaboration with Rotarian Action Group for Hepatitis Eradication as part of the Global Hepatitis Zero Project; a world-wide project that takes place annually and has expanded to 9,620 Locations in 115 Countries this year. In Nigeria, we screened about 50,000 people for both Hepatitis B and C in almost 500 locations in Partnership with 120 Rotary Clubs and 32 Civil Society Organizations during this year’s World Hepatitis Week from July 20th- 28th 2019.
6,702 were seropositive for the Hepatitis B Virus, while 1,086 were positive for Hepatitis C virus.
“We have continued with outreaches in Churches and Mosques, markets and malls, reports from the field in the last 2months have shown that indeed the Zero positivity of the Hepatitis B virus hovers around 11 and 15% depending on the location with a few cases of Hepatitis C here and there also at about 2% of those tested.
“For instance, the outreach post at the Jabi Mall has screened 858 people for HBV and vaccinating 606 for their first dose, but only 318 have returned for second dose, while this is commendable, it is also unfortunately very disturbing because the remaining 288 is tantamount to waste.
“We have also established contact with Clinton Health Access Initiative, Philips Pharmaceuticals, and Roche Pharmaceuticals amongst others on treatment of indigent persons with the HCV.
” I want to use this opportunity to call on all relevant stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to join us in the fight against these deadly viruses, one with a cure but has no vaccine and another without a vaccine but has no cure.
“We have a vision of a Nigeria where viral hepatitis transmission is halted and everyone living with viral hepatitis has access to safe, affordable & effective care and treatment, we shall therefore continue to seek opportunities to increase public awareness, advances in hepatitis, medicines, diagnostics and other technologies; and strengthening commitment to achieve health equity,” he added.
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