Experts have called on health authorities to rally round independent organisations working on viral hepatitis in efforts to increase awareness about the disease.
Dr Chris Otabor, chief medical director at Alliance Hospital, Abuja, said the federal ministry of health needed to rally around groups to “make their voice stronger to save lives.”
Speaking at the launch of a national campaign against hepatitis by the Lead Health Services Club in Abuja, Otabor said the most challenge against hepatitis was ignorance.
“It is ignorance that will make people pass away, not because there’s no help. There is no point for anyone to suffer or jeopardize his or her health because of hepatitis.”
The virus for hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) is responsible for some 80% of liver cancers, said Dr Chidi Nnabuchi, consultant gastroenterologist at Asokoro District Hospital, in a presentation.
Hepatitis B is “more a problem” in Nigeria, prevalent among up to 20% of population and causing up to 200,000 annual deaths.
It is ten times more infections than Hepatitis C and 100 times more infectious than HIV, but many patients with the condition remain without symptoms, said Nnabuchi.
“Most are diagnosed only when they go to give blood or during routine medical checkups,” he said, underscoring need for screening and prompt treatment for positive tests and immunisation for screens that are negative.
Lead Health Services club offers members free screening and health awareness programme, according to its programme officer Ibukunayo Popoola.
But its yearlong outreach until September next year when it comes up for review will target Nigerians using social media, Facebook, ringtones, online photo sharing and traditional media, said St Collins Michael, head of Lead Multimedia, which manages Lead Health Services. – Daily Trust.