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Published On: Tue, Jul 30th, 2019

World Hepatitis Day: NGO urges govt, stakeholders to invest in cure, prevention

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From: Oluseyi Dasilva, Ilorin

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Kings Health and Development Initiative and the Coalition on Hepatitis Civil Society on Monday called on all tiers of government to save people’s lives by investing on eradication of hepatitis in Nigeria.
Ayo Olanipekun, the project lead for Kings Health and Development Initiative made the call, during an awareness campaign across Ilorin metropolis to celebrate the World Hepatitis Day.
According to him, over 325 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis, while the viral hepatitis B and C is 50 to 100 percent more infectious than HIV/AIDS.
He explained that 780,000 persons die every year from the disease, and about 80 percent have no access to testing and treatment.
“The prevalence of Hepatitis B is highest in Sub-Saharan African countries such as Nigeria, with majority developing chronic infections,” he said.
Olanipekun who observed that the theme for the 2019 World Hepatitis Day is: “Invest in eradication of Hepatitis,” also appealed to governments, corporate bodies and other stakeholders to invest in preventable means.
He disclosed that, according to a research by the Federal Ministry of Health, Kwara records the highest in Hepatitis C in North Central states.
He explained that the campaign is to create awareness on the burden of Hepatitis and the menace of the disease and the need to help people access health care.
He added that millions of people infected with Hepatitis were unaware of their condition, and that people should avail themselves of the free Hepatitis vaccine currently available for the duration of marking the World Hepatitis Day.
Speaking at the sidelines of the awareness campaign, Dr Michael Oguntoye, Director Primary Health Care Agency of the Ministry of Health, noted that Hepatitis B virus can cause acute disease with symptoms lasting several weeks including yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Other symptoms, he said included, extreme fatigue, nausea,and abdomen pain among others.
According to him, Hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least seven days which can cause infections if it enters the body of a person not infected.
“Hepatitis B is deadly and common,. Everyone is at risk of the disease because it spreads very easily through infected mother to child during birth, injections, sexual activity and sharing of needles among others,” he said.
The Epidemiologist said the government is trying to expand and create capacity in screening and vaccination; especially in hepatitis C, adding that hepatitis C is preventable.
Oguntoye urge people across the state to get screened, and also get treatment for Hepatitis C, while noting that there is vaccines for Hepatitis A and B but no vaccines for Hepatitis CDE types.

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