As Nigeria joins the rest of the world mark World Hepatitis Day tomorrow, July 28, John Ewaoche, President Hajo Non Communicable Diseases Prevention Initiative writes on how best to prevent and possibly eliminate the disease from the shores of Nigeria.
Hepatitis is a disease of the liver and is a serious public health issue today. The five viruses such as hepatitis A to E that cause infections of the liver are responsible for a widely prevalent and growing disease burden and these can cause infectious diseases in their own right.
Hepatitis A and E are referred to as infectious hepatitis and are gotten through food and water contaminated with fecal material. They do not survive in the body system longer than six months and as such cause only acute form of hepatitis.
Hepatitis B and C are referred to as serum hepatitis and are gotten from infected blood/ blood products and contaminated objects. These hepatitis viruses survive in the body system longer than six months and as such cause chronic form of hepatitis.
Hepatitis D requires the hepatitis B protein for it replication. It is found only in the presence of hepatitis B virus.
In Nigeria it is estimated that 11% and 2.6% of the population has chronic hepatitis B and C infection respectively and no geopolitical zone of the country is spared. Worldwide, infections with hepatitis B and C viruses cause an estimated 57% of cases of liver cirrhosis and 78% of cases of primary liver cancer.
The availability of a vaccine that confers lifelong protection against infection with the hepatitis B virus and the current cure for hepatitis C in around 70% of people who take treatment give public health a rare opportunity to prevent a leading cause of cancer, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
This 2016 is a pivotal year for viral hepatitis as it is the first time national governments from the 183 WHO member states adopted the ELIMINATION STRATEGY FOR VIRAL HEPATITIS with ambitious target and goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
To achieve this elimination, Hajo Non Communicable Diseases Prevention Initiation with it offices in Calabar and Abuja has been embarking on greater awareness, increased diagnosis and key interventions including at-risk vaccination, blood and injection safety education, harm reduction and referrals in Cross River state. (like our Facebook page Hajo Non Communicable Diseases Prevention Initiative ).
I encourage everyone to go for screening (testing), vaccination for those that will be negative and referral/ treatment for those that will be positive, so that viral hepatitis is eliminated by 2030.
ITODO S EWAOCHE
Hajo Non Communicable Diseases Prevention Initiative