Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver; there are five major types of hepatitis – hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E. It is caused by toxins, heavy alcohol use, certain medical conditions, and some medications. It is also transferable through direct contact with the blood or body fluid of an infected person. Also, ever since the emergence of the disease, it has been incurable, but is usually managed through proper treatment.
However, the Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the flag off of 2022 World Hepatitis Day, which had the theme: “Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer To You,” stated that Nigeria will soon commence the production of hepatitis vaccines in order to put an end to its damage in the country. He emphasized that the disease is a public health threat, hepatitis B and hepatitis C especially, causing severe infection alongside attendant morbidity and mortality.
Over 20 million Nigerians have hepatitis B and C.
Currently, more than 20 million Nigerians have been recorded to be infected with hepatitis B and C, which is more as a result of lack of awareness of the disease. Hepatitis, similar to HIV, is usually transmitted through unsafe sexual acts, unsafe injections practices, sharing of sharp objects, unsafe blood transfusion, mother-to-child transmission, and many more. As a result, Nigeria, as a public sector, would be working with the private sector towards the production of the vaccines which are known as traditional vaccines.
According to the minister, by the end of next month, the country will be connected with partners, including those who would work on research and development of the new generation vaccines based on mRNA, so as to begin the work on a new mRNA vaccine collaboration. Asides this, there are some major achievements necessary for meeting up with the 2030 target, which include infant vaccination, blood and injection safety, mother-to-child intervention, harm reduction, diagnosis and treatment.
Nigeria has been achieving success in reduction of children hepatitis.
Having an estimation of the number of Nigerians suffering from the disease, Nigeria expresses its commitment towards the eradication of viral hepatitis by 2030 through massive public awareness. With this, the country will improve the capacity of its health care providers, increase access to diagnosis and treatment, and the improvement of community engagement. In addition, Walter Kadazi Mulombo, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, highlighted that Nigeria has the highest number hepatitis, with a national hepatitis B (HBV) prevalence rate of 8. 1%, and hepatitis C is 1-1, mostly between the age of 15-64.
It has been discovered that many people, even after realizing their state of health, find it difficult to fund the high cost of treatment and out-of-pocket payment, which in return serves as an impediment to proper treatment. In a bid to curb the danger of the disease, Nigeria introduced the hepatitis B Birth dose and the pentavalent (DTP-HepB-Hib) vaccine, since 2004, into routine childhood immunization schedule. With this, Nigeria contributes its quota towards the reduction of hepatitis B in children.
Creation of awareness would reduce hepatitis.
Furthermore, Nigeria has been intentionally screening all donated and transfused blood, while blood products for HBV and HCV has institutionalized safety, together with little precaution, since 2007. Dr. Osagie, therefore, pledges his commitment to partner with the federal government, and see to it that testing and treatment services are made readily available and accessible to the people in the communities. The general awareness would also educate Nigerians on what the disease is all about, so as to prevent themselves from getting infected.