Consultant Gastroenterologist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Dr. Casmir Omuemu, has called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on hepatitis in Nigeria.
Making the call in Benin during an interaction with Committee on Medical Outreaches and Public Health (COMOPH) of the University Of Benin Medical Students Association (UBEMSA), Dr. Omuemu, said over 20 million Nigerians are infected with hepatitis and at least one in 10 persons is suffering from a chronic form of the disease.
“Hepatitis is gradually becoming a National emergency in Nigeria because many people do not know about it, yet the disease is four times more deadly than HIV/AIDS. Hepatitis is caused by Hepatitis Virus and there are different forms of the virus including A,B,C,D,E and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
“However Hepatitis B is very common and is the most deadly of them all. It is called the silent killer because infected individual look healthy, meanwhile gross damage is being done to their organs”, he said.
Casmir added that the disease can be gotten through transmission from Mother-to-child, unprotected sexual intercourse and use of infected sharp objects.
He said although the disease can resolve on its own, but the long term damage to the liver can result in cirrhosis, cancer, failure and ultimately death.
He called on the government to declare a state of emergency on the disease while adding that treatment options were expensive and beyond the reach of average Nigerians.
On ways of preventing the disease, he outlined personal hygiene, sustained public health campaign, vaccination, early presentation for treatment and general management as key in preventing the disease.