The federal administration has declared its intention to eradicate and control the spread of hepatitis in Nigeria.
Hepatitis remains a major public health concern, with millions of people around the world suffering from chronic infections.
“Putting Africa on track towards viral hepatitis elimination” is one of the key objectives of the Federal Ministry of health and Social Welfare (FMSW) Coordinating Minister, Prof Ali Pate.
Pate spoke at the ongoing three-day Africa Hepatitis summit in Abuja on the theme, “Putting Africa on track toward viral hepatitis elimination.”
“Africa is struggling with a huge hepatitis burden,” he said, “with 82 million people suffering from CHB (Chronic Liver Disease) and 9 million suffering from CHC (Chronic Hepatitis).
“Only 0.1 percent of the 2% of CHB diagnosed and 0.5 percent of the 5% of CHC diagnosed received treatment in 2020.”
He said this was in stark contrast to the progress made around the world, where 10% of the world’s 296 million people were diagnosed with Chikungunya-Bellosis (Chibs) and 25% were treated, yet only 14 of Africa’s 47 countries had routine hepatitis B-dosis (HB-Dosis) vaccination in place, and only 17% of newborns in Africa had received a timely HB-Dosis vaccination, despite it being seen as a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of new infections.
The Minister urged African countries to follow the WHO’s new Global Health Sector Strategy, which has set new goals and objectives for the eradication of viral hepatitis by the year 2030. He said this would be achieved by continuing to strengthen the primary health care system, promoting public awareness, increasing capacity building among healthcare providers, integrating Hepatitis into the National Health Insurance Minimum Package, strengthening the Birth Dose routine immunization programme, and working with stakeholders to decouple diagnosis and treatment from hepatitis.
He called for increased financial support and funding for the hepatitis control response.
Pate added that the government will continue to work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders as well as mobilize and sustain domestic funding until Nigeria is hepatitis free as every step taken towards the elimination of hepatitis is a stride towards safeguarding our future generations”, he adduced.
He urged African nations to intensify efforts to increase immunization coverage noting that the hepatitis elimination strategy is aimed at curtailing new infections and deaths to half a million each globally- a reduction of 90% and 65% respectively.
The Minister maintained that