A non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Yakubu Gowon Centre, and its partners have embarked on Viral Hepatitis screening and immunisation of 5,000 people in Bauchi State.
The Yakubu Gowon Centre is a consortium made up of Gowon Centre, Centre for HIV/AIDs and STD Research, Moral Trust, Federal Ministry of Health and Phillips Pharmaceutical.
The programme, which is supported and funded by the Presidential Committee on North-east Initiative (PCNI), has conducted a screening and immunisation for patients and residents in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, Bauchi Specialist Hospital, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), General Hospital, Bayara, Ilelah and Kandahar communities in Bauchi, among others.
Earlier in an interview with journalists during the exercise at the state Ministry of Health Wednesday, the Team Leader, Mr Nduka Ozor, said that the four-day programme was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan for health care delivery meant for vulnerable IDPs and residents in host communities in the North-east.
According to him, “In this pilot phase in Bauchi, the support from PCNI is going to cover 5,000 people especially health workers because we realise that there is high prevalence among the health workers and these are the people that are supposed to take care of other patients.”
Ozor noted that this intervention by the PCNI and Yakubu Gowon Centre will go a long way to help the poor masses, especially since the universal health coverage has not been attained.
“The NHIS scheme has not reached the people at the grassroots, so an intervention of this nature still have a place in contemporary healthcare delivery system in Nigeria.
“And you know that viral hepatitis is very infectious, more deadly than HIV/AIDs. In fact, Hepatitis B is more dangerous than HIV. It is important you screen the whole of your household because if you are living with an infected person, you can easily contract the virus. The virus is more stubborn than HIV.
“Our mandate is to cover the whole of the North-east to do viral Hepatitis screening and vaccination. Those who are not reactive, we vaccinate them, give them three shots of the vaccine within three months and that covers them for between 30 and 40 years, that’s for hepatitis,” he said.
The team leader also explained that “those that are positive for Hepatitis C, we begin to initiate treatment, and luckily there’s treatment for Hepatitis C but for Hepatitis B, it’s only management, and we are in Bauchi to initiate the process”.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, Dr. Saidu Aliyu Gital, thanked the Yakubu Gowon Centre for the intervention and reiterated the commitment of the state government in supporting such laudable intervention and commitment.
Also speaking, the Medical Representative of Phillips Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited, one of the partners of Yakubu Gowon Centre at programme, Mr Ayuba Dawa, said the company is intervening by supplying all the vaccines and consumables for the exercise .
Ayuba, who disclosed that the company was also involved in the earlier intervention in Yobe, Bornu and Adamawa States said: “The company being a multi-international company deals in pharmaceutical products, globally and our products are very qualitative, so we are well prepared for this intervention.”