The Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has reiterated the commitment of Nigerian Government towards the elimination of Viral Hepatitis in Nigeria by the year 2030.
The Minister made this statement at the press briefing to commemorate the 2018 Word Hepatitis Day with theme: ‘’Test. Treat. Hepatitis ‘’, and the launching of National Directory on Viral Hepatitis Services Document, in Abuja, recently.
Prof. Adewole noted that while 22 Million Nigerians were estimated to be infected with Hepatitis B and roughly 4 million infected with Hepatitis C, the case of Viral Hepatitis were more common amongst people between the ages of 21 and 40 years.
He informed that ‘’ I must Say that it is sad that while mortality from tuberculosis and HIV is on the decline, the number of deaths from viral Hepatitis is on the increase as reported in the WHO Report of 2017’’.
The Minister pointed out that the risk factors include local circumcision, local uvelectomy and scarification on the body, other predisposing factors including surgical procedures, deliveries that occur at home and blood transfusion, he added.
He stressed 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 individuals at the greater risk of severe, even fatal health complications such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)’’.
To this end, the Minister said that the FMOH 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 and cure for Hepatitis C at the lowest possible price.
He advised that ‘’ 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!’’.
In his remarks, the Former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who is also the National Goodwill Ambassador for the control of viral hepatitis in Nigeria said ‘’ To deal with the health problems of the nation, more fund is required . I therefore plead and urge the Federal and State Governments to seriously give consideration to upward review to the annual budgetary allocation to the Federal and State Ministries of Health to a bench mark that can reduce the burden of viral hepatitis and inclusion into National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to improve the quality and access to medical facilities across the country’’.
In his Goodwill Message, WHO’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu, who was represented by Dr. Rex Mpazanje, pledged that WHO would continue to support Nigeria by making more simplified Hepatitis B and C Diagnostic and Treatment services available, accessible and affordable towards achieving a free viral hepatitis country by year 2030.
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