By Blessing Bature, Abuja
Federal government has said In Nigeria, nearly 20 million people are estimated to be infected with Hepatitis B or C and despite significant rates of infection, there is very low awareness about the infection.
Minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire disclosed this on Monday in a press briefing in commemoration of world hepatitis day in Abuja saying infections are under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated. Stigma and discrimination of those infected also pose challenges.
Ehanire said, viral hepatitis remains a public health threat, especially hepatitis B and C, which cause chronic infection with attendant morbidity and mortality.
According to him, the spread of Hepatitis B and C, similar to HIV, is fueled by unsafe sexual behaviour and injection practices, unsafe blood transfusion, and harmful practices such as sharing of sharp objects for scarification marks, tattoos etc and Mother-to-Child transmission. We acknowledge the need to do much more than ever before to address this.
“The global theme for this year is “BRINGING HEPATITIS CARE CLOSER TO YOU” In line with this year’s theme, the Federal Ministry of Health with support from its partners, is taking concrete steps to ensure that hepatitis care is indeed brought closer to every Nigerian.
The minister noted that important policy and strategic documents as well as treatment protocols for viral hepatitis have been developed in line with the Global Health Sector Strategy for viral hepatitis control.
“You may be aware that in May this year at the 75th World Health Assembly, WHO member states approved a new Global Health Sector Strategy for Viral Hepatis.
“I am happy to inform you that Nigeria has in alignment with the new strategy, developed our own National Strategic Framework for Viral Hepatitis aimed at achieving the global target of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030. I am proud to note that Nigeria is one of the first counties to have achieved this in the short time”, he added,