Over 400m people infected with Hepatitis B-to-E unnoticed
Centre for Disease Control has revealed that over 400 million people across the world have today been infected with chronic viral Hepatitis A,B,C,D & E without their knowledge.
Director of Health Science in Kaduna, Maryam Abubakar, disclosed this shortly after addressing hundreds students at the school hall Wednesday morning to mark the International Day of Hepatitis.
The medical practitioner, therefore, urged Government to redouble efforts on the fight against Hepatitis – the silent killer.
The expert urged Nigerians to join the rest of the world in commemorating the day, by way of supporting in the daily fight against “the silent killer” Hepatitis through sensitizing hundreds of school students at school assembly grounds on various preventive measures.
The director stressed that, “Hepatitis is the Seventh lead-killer disease in the universe today, which is more dangerous than HIV/AIDS or Malaria, Tuberculosis (TB), and other deadly diseases that duly need the attention of every stakeholder to combat it.”
Maryam described the most common symptoms of hepatitis as, loss of appetite, fatigue, mild fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, and abdominal pain, and called on students to pay much attention to their health and desist from what could cause any health challenges to their lives.
It was also revealed that more than 1.4 million people every year die of this disease without their knowledge due to poor awareness on its dangers and poor access to hepatitis treatment services.
“The World Hepatitis Day is currently recognized in over 100 WHO member countries with millions of people across the world taking part, and 28th of every July is the date that is set aside for the celebration day, and the theme of this year, 2016 is, ‘Know hepatitis – Act now.’ ”
Maryam pointed out some preventive ways to all the Hepatitis that could be useful to students when taking into consideration, and these include; “Know How Hepatitis Spreads,” “Get Educated About Hepatitis,” “Get Your Hepatitis A & B Immunization,” “Take Hepatitis Precautions When Traveling,” “Avoid High-Risk Sharing of Personal Items,” “Avoid Cigarettes, Drugs and Alcohol,” and “Eat a Well-Balanced Diet.”
The director also stressed the need for both state and federal governments, Philanthropists, Humanitarian organizations like International Red Cross, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), SEMA, Civil Societies Organization, and NGOs, to immensely intensify efforts on the fight against hepatitis in the country, in view of a large number of people, who usually die silently every day, as a result of the lack of knowledge of the disease in both Rural areas and Urban cities.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), SOGHIN, World Hepatitis Alliance, and the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), “these needless and preventable deaths are often unreported or misclassified as deaths after a ‘brief illness,’ since Hepatitis B and C symptoms only become obvious a few days or weeks to the death of the patient.”
They have gone ahead to reiterate that, there is need to educate the population about Hepatitis B and C, especially on the need to prevent infection, since unlike HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, which are backed by donor funds, control is not yet subsidized and patients have to bear the cost of their testing, vaccine and, of course, treatment for those who must be placed on medication.
In his remarks, Mallam Abdulhakeen Miko, who is an expert on Anatomy from School of Health Science, Makarfi Kaduna, also said that, “It’s now clear that, the message from doctors-to-patients is across all the 36 states of Nigeria is;” report your sickness on time before it’s too late, because Doctors treating Hepatitis want to see patients early before it’s too late, which is just like the saying – ‘justice delayed is justice denied.”
Miko said over 90% of people with Hepatitis C can be completely cured of the virus within 3–6 months, through appropriate treatment, while Hepatitis B and C can prevent the development of the major life-threatening complications of chronic liver disease: cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The school students expressed satisfaction over various lectures on preventive ways against Hepatitis that were delivered at the occasion, and vowed to stay alert. WHO advises that by scaling up treatment, 7 million lives can be saved between 2015 and 2030, with communities benefiting from economic gains.