Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that an estimated 200,000 persons die in Africa annually due to liver complications caused by hepatitis disease.
The world health body also stated that despite the availability of diagnostic tools and effective treatment, less than one in every 10 of the 71 million people with hepatitis A or B have access to testing.
This was contained in a message issued by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in Abuja at the weekend as part of the build-up to mark the 2019 World Hepatitis Day.
Moeti said WHO developed a hepatitis scorecard in June this year to help monitor and track progress being made to check the disease prevalence across Africa.
According to Moeti, the scorecard shows that “the highest burden of hepatitis B infection in children under five years is seen in countries without hepatitis B birth dose vaccination in combination with suboptimal coverage under (90 percent) of childhood ‘pantevalent’ vaccination and testing as well as treatment, as a public health approach remains the most neglected aspect of the response.”
The WHO scribe expressed the hope that just as the focus of the theme of this years’ world hepatitis day is on pulling more resources to address the scourge, getting government to show more commitment and invest more money will help eliminate the disease by 2030.
While commending Rwanda and Uganda for providing free access to hepatitis treatment, the global health organisation urged member states of the Africa Union to invest more in public health campaign aimed at eliminating hepatitis B and C by carrying hepatitis B vaccination for all newborn.