Deaths from hepatitis increasing, get tested, Oyo tells Nigerians

Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Bashi Bello, has warned on increasing deaths from hepatitis in the nation and urged Nigerians to ensure they get tested for the infection.

Dr Bello, who spoke at the media briefing and flagoff of a community testing and awareness creation on hepatitis in Ibadan, in commemorating 2020 World Hepatitis Day, stated that while deaths from tuberculosis and HIV have been declining, deaths from hepatitis are increasing.

According to him, while viral hepatitis affects more than 325 million people worldwide and causes more than one million deaths each year, testing is important in finding the millions of people who are unaware they have the infection and to be able to prevent it among newborn.

He stated that widespread screening and control is the most important gap to be addressed in order to achieve the global elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030.

Dr Bello said the awareness campaign by the ministry in collaboration with APIN Public Health Initiative and Association for Orphans and Vulnerable Children NGO in Nigeria to commemorate the day will also afford pregnant women and women of reproductive age group the opportunity to have free hepatitis and HIV tests to prevent hepatitis in newborns.

APIN Public Health Initiative representative, Mrs Bola Thompson, said given that HIV and hepatitis have the same mode of transmission, it is important that individuals know their HIV and hepatitis status and be able to access available healthcare services in case they already have these infections.

The state coordinator, Association for Orphans and Vulnerable Children NGO in Nigeria, Mr Marcus Williams, declared that many children are vulnerable to contracting hepatitis in the community and so the need to sensitise mothers, pregnant women and those that interface with pregnant women on the importance of hepatitis test, treatment and prevention.

“Stopping hepatitis at this level is key to keeping our children safe and secure and giving them a meaningful life in future.

“Our role as civil society organisations is to support the government with test kits, so that people can get tested, know their status, go back home and go on treatment and keep hepatitis away from their children,” he said.

 

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