Abuja, August 1 2018 - To commemorate the 2018 World Hepatitis Day, the Honorable Minster of Health, Federal Ministry of Health launched the Nigerian Viral Hepatitis Health Facility Directory. The directory provides information on existing health facilities where Hepatitis Services are being provided.
During the press briefing, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole described Hepatitis as a global disease that affects many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. He pointed out that “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,”
He further mentioned that the Federal Ministry of Health 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 of Hepatitis C at the lowest possible price. The Ministry recently signed an MOU with a leading pharmaceutical firm to provide drugs for the treatment and cure for Hepatitis C, which will continue to be scaled up over the next 12 months. The minister also urged all Nigerians undergo regular checkups to determine their Hepatitis status and seek treatment if necessary.
General Yakubu Gowon, a former Nigerian Head of State and the current Goodwill Ambassador for viral Hepatitis in his speech, called on well-meaning Nigerians and international organizations to contribute in the fight against viral Hepatitis. “To combat hepatitis disease, more funding is required from Federal Government and other partners. It is my sincere hope and prayer that this gathering will fire up a unique challenge in our personal dealings with Hepatitis in Nigeria.”
On his part, the acting country Representative of World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Rex Mpazanje, reassured Nigerians that all hope is not lost as cost effective medicines are now available to control Hepatitis B infection and cure Hepatitis C. “For Hepatitis C, the available medicines can cure the infection in almost all patients within 12 weeks. There is also Hepatitis B vaccine given at birth, together with infant vaccination, that prevents over 95% of new infections, “he said.
Dr Mpazanje commended the Government of Nigeria for having a costed strategic plan that is serving as a roadmap for elimination of viral Hepatitis in the country. He further reiterated WHO continued support towards increased availability, accessibility and affordability of more simplified Hepatitis B and C diagnostic treatment services, in order to achieve hepatitis free world by 2039.
There are 323 million people infected with Hepatitis B or C virus globally, a burden 10 times larger than the HIV epidemic, with over 1.4 million people dying annually from liver disease including two out of every three liver cancer deaths.