‘20m Nigerians Carry Hepatitis Virus’

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Moriam Yusuf

Experts have said about 20 million Nigerians are carriers of the Hepatitis virus and described the disease as a silent killer, adding that eliminating it is capable of increasing economic growth and saving 7.1 million lives by 2030.

Senior Research Fellow and Consultant Pediatrician at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Dr. Damien Nwaneri disclosed this at the flag-off of a three-day Hepatitis-B Awareness and Prevention Campaign, organised by Development Africa (DA), which held in Lagos recently.

Nwaneri described Hepatitis-B as inflammation of the liver tissues and noted that it carries high morbidity, adding that emphasis should be on prevention because treatment is not always complete.
While noting that some per cent of infected persons carry the virus for life, he advised every adult Nigerian to go for testing to ascertain their Hepatitis status, and urged infected persons to go for vaccination.

The three-day event was sponsored by Total Upstream Companies in Nigeria in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Sapetro, Petrobras, and CNOOC. DA is a charity and international non-governmental organisation with a mission to build sustainable and accessible solutions to promote healthcare and education.

“There are different types of Hepatitis; Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E .Approximately 20 per cent of Nigerians have Hepatitis. There are different types of Hepatitis, Hepatitis-B is an inflammation of the liver tissues and it carries high morbidity rate.

“It is advised that all adult Nigerians should go for testing to ascertain their Hepatitis status and to go treatment if infected. However; emphasis should be on awareness and preventive because the treatment is not always complete as some carriers of the virus carry it for life”, Nwaneri, who is also the Senior Medical Consultant to Development Africa stated.

The External General Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Total Upstream Companies in Nigeria, Vincent Nnadi also disclosed that while Hepatitis kills 1.4 million annually, tackling it successfully would boost economic growth and save 1.7 million lives by 2030.

“Total is committed to impacting lives of all people of Nigeria. As part of our CSR, we partner governmental, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other relevant agencies and stakeholders to fight Hepatitis-B in Nigeria. This year’s campaign dedicated to creating and increasing awareness and combat Hepatitis infection.
“Globally, Hepatitis-B claims the lives of 1.4 million people annually. The Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria also confirmed that 20 million Nigerians are at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the liver, which are possible complications of Hepatitis-B infection. This therefore explains why our organisation is determined to partner all stakeholders to wipe out the disease from our environment.

“Unlike many other illnesses, the solution exists. With the prevalence of highly effective preventive vaccine and treatment available for Hepatitis-B, the elimination of this cancer-causing disease can be achieved. Eliminating viral hepatitis can increase economic growth and save 7.1 million lives by 2030,” Nnadi stated.
Highlights of the event included free Hepatitis-B screening, community training and awareness for residents of Ikota community and environs. Others were training for healthcare providers, awareness talks for selected senior secondary school students of the Olomu Senior Secondary School, Ikota, in the Eti-Osa Local Government area.