By Matthew Denis
No fewer than 150 people in Kwara State have benefitted free Hepatitis screening organised by the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria (SOGHIN).
The exercise was part of activities to mark the 2019 World Hepatitis Day, which was commemorated last Sunday.
The theme of this year’s celebration with the theme is “Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis”, with stakeholders agreeing that early detection and childhood vaccination will curb the burden of the disease by 2030.
The Kwara State branch of the body also held a road walk to sensitise the public on the effect of hepatitis B on patients.
Speaking during an interview with newsmen on Wednesday, the state Chairman of SOGHIN, Prof. Abdulfatahi Bamidele Olokoba said the disease has become a global burden.
“This day is celebrated world over because the burden of Hepatitis B has become a global public health problem and because of its significance, the World Health Organisation has designated 28th of July every year to raise awareness for people to get screened, tested and treated to reduce the burden of the disease.
“It will interest you to know that a large percentage of people particularly in Asia, south America and Africa are affected by Hepatitis B.
“About 2 billion people have had contact with the virus and as many as 200 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B. Coming home to Nigeria the prevenlence of hepatitis B is about 11.2 percent of the global population, which is equivalent to 23 million Nigerians infected with the disease.
“What we have also found out is that globally about 650 people die of Hepatitis B related infectious disease annually in the country. Hepatitis B infection may lead to serious liver cirrhosis and cancer in the country. This group of infectious diseases can be categorised into hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.,” he explained.
Prof. Olukoba who is the Chief Medical Director of Ilorin General Hospital stressed that the body is concerned about getting people tested and raise their immunity against getting infected with vaccines.
He said, “For those who are infected we can link them up for care and do some follow up to manage their conditions.” .
According to the medical expert the disease can be transmitted through blood and blood products and very intimate body contact.
He said, “there are certain sociocultural practices that encourages contact of the virus such as tribal marks, tattoos, local nail cutting, as well as other means such as sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, oral sex, kissing, barbing, among others.