By Tobias Lengnan Dapam Abuja
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole has said that hepatitis B and C are responsible for 96 percent of all mortality due to Viral Hepatitis.
Speaking yesterday to mark Hepatitis Day, Adewole said Nigeria has a prevalence of 11% for Hepatitis B and 2.2% for Hepatitis C respectively, according to the ministry in 2013.
“The cases of Viral Hepatitis are more common amongst people between the ages of 21 and 40 years. In our clime, the risk factors include local circumcision, local uvelectomy, and scarifications on the body.
Other predisposing factors include surgical procedures, deliveries that occur at home and blood transfusion to mention a few. May I inform you that, our target is to eliminate Viral Hepatitis by the year 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Permit me to add that Nigeria, with support from Partners and other stakeholders has made significant progress in the control of Viral Hepatitis. Some of the key achievements include the inauguration of a Technical Working Group (TWG) in 2013, to provide technical guidance for the implementation of Hepatitis control and support 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 added that out of the over 300 million people living with Viral Hepatitis globally, 90% of them do not know their status.
“In Nigeria, the knowledge of Viral Hepatitis remains low even though it is a leading cause of death. As a result most Nigerians living with Viral Hepatitis B or C are undiagnosed, increasing the likelihood of transmission to others. It also places the individual at the greater risk of severe, even fatal health complications such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
“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. The Ministry recently signed an MOU with Gilead Pharmaceutical to provide drugs for the treatment and cure for Hepatitis C and we will continue to significantly scale up over the next 12 months. Let me advice every Nigerian thus – “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.”