The Nigerian government has launched the Viral Hepatitis Health Facility Directory, an easily accessible public guide with information on the location of health facilities that provide Hepatitis treatment services.
The directory was launched by Health minister Professor Isaac Adewode during an occasion to commemorate World Hepatitis Day. It occurs annually and across the globe on August 1.
Addressing delegates at the launch in Abuja, Prof Adewode said as elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Hepatitis is one of the major contributors to Nigeria’s little-known but high disease burden.
“Nigeria has a prevalence of 11.0 and 2.2 % for Hepatitis B and C respectively and sadly, most Nigerians infected with viral Hepatitis do not know,” Prof Adewode said. Several interventions are planned to reduce the prevalence of the common Hepatitis strains, especially B and C.
Prof Adewode said Nigeria has signed a deal with a pharmaceutical firm to provide drugs for a treatment roll-out project against Hepatitis C over the next 12 months. According to the Ministry of Health, most Nigerians who have Hepatitis B and C do not know it.
The government has since launched a public awareness campaign to encourage Nigerians to undergo regular check-ups for their Hepatitis status and seek treatment if necessary.
World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Dr Rex Mpazanje said there was renewed hope that the disease can be controlled due to the ready availability of cost effective medicines that can control and cure Hepatitis B and C infections
According to WHO estimates, 323 million people are infected with Hepatitis B or C virus globally. The disease impact is estimated at 10 times larger than the HIV epidemic, with over 1.4 million people dying annually, mostly from liver-cancers.
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