The Nasarawa State Government has said that no fewer than 18,429 residents of the state have tested positive for viral Hepatitis B and C.
The state Commissioner for Health, Pharm. Ahmed Yahaya, made the disclosure during a press briefing held in commemoration of the 2022 World Hepatitis Day tagged ‘Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to You’, in Lafia on Thursday.
He explained that a total of 181,946 residents were screened but 18,429 tested positive for the disease, adding that some of the infected persons were presently taking treatments in government hospitals across the 13 Local Government Areas of the state.
He said, “The World Hepatitis Day, is a day set aside by the World Health Organization to recognize viral Hepatitis as a global Public Health Challenge. It is commemorated every 28th day of July in order to increase the visibility of this disease and attract more resources for the battle against it, as well as to bring succor to the people affected by the viral Hepatitis while aiming to curb its spread.
“In Africa, it is estimated that about 15-60% of normal population are living with either HBV or HCV, while the national burden for HBV & HCV stands at 8.1% & 1.1% respectively (NATIS. 2018). The Nasarawa state burden stood at about 16% & 13.2% seroprevalence for HBV & HCV respectively.
“Nasarawa state under the leadership of Governor Abdullahi Sule, in February 2020 expressed commitment to the elimination of Viral Hepatitis through the implementation of a five-year strategic plan with a target of treating 124,000 persons in line with the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy, targeted at improving human capacity development.”
“The state clearly exhibits a disproportionately high prevalence of Hepatitis B & C as compared to the national average. It is the high burden of this dreaded disease in the state that led the state Ministry of Health with support from the Clinton Health Access Initiative to establish the State’s Viral Hepatitis Control Program, creating an enabling policy environment to drive access to HBV/HCV diagnostic and treatment services.”
The Commissioner further narrated that in order to swiftly tackle the virus, the state government created testing centres across the 13 LGAs for mass community screening, and called on residents to avail themselves of the screening.
“I call on the general public to avail themselves to be tested for HBV and HCV, and avoid the use of unsterilised sharp objects, sharing of needles/syringes, and the transfusion of unscreened blood/blood products.
“I also want to appeal to all residents of the state to spread the Hepatitis message widely and emphasise on the adoption of preventive measures that will reduce the further spread of the disease,” Yahaya added.