The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has called on stakeholders in the health sector to create more awareness on dangers posed by viral hepatitis.
The minister, who made the call at a press briefing to mark World Hepatitis Day, in Abuja, said the disease had become a silent killer because much importance had not been attached to dangers it posed to health.
He said the theme for the year’s celebration is “Eliminate Hepatitis”, adding that the campaign against the disease was aimed at adding momentum to all efforts to implement the National Strategic Plan for the control of viral hepatitis.
Adewole said hepatitis condition could be self-limiting or progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer and listed the five main types of hepatitis viruses as, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
He said that types B and C hepatitis led to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
“But, what is particularly important is that the liver is the engine room of the body.
“When the engine room of the factory is faulty, the entire system will not be able to work, and hepatitis affects the liver.
“Two are particularly dangerous, that is hepatitis B and C. They not only cause problem for the liver, they lead to chronic liver problem where people develop abdominal swelling.
“In some, it results in liver cancer. This is why it is important for us to tackle hepatitis with seriousness.
‘“But, the good thing about hepatitis is that it is also preventable, that is why we need to create awareness among our people, we need to let them know,” he said.
Adewole said that many people contracted the disease through faecal-oral transmission, particularly A and E, ‘’which we have in some parts of Borno State.
“It is transmitted through contaminated water, so, we can stay away from hepatitis by disposing faeces from the body carefully, by drinking clean and safe water, and by avoiding contact with contaminated blood, body fluid.
“With that, we can stay away from hepatitis B and C, which can also be transmitted to new born.
“But the beauty is that we now have vaccine against hepatitis B, and it is available during immunisation, it is free, it is part of the vaccines for the young ones.
“It is available and Nigerians should take interest in getting their children routinely immunised,” he said.
Adewole said that adults might not need the vaccine, but needed to get tested in order that every adult should know their status.
“If you are positive, we want to know among others things whether you have the antibodies and antigens, secondly, the virus multiplies in our system.
“If it is multiplying in our system, we want to know how quickly it is multiplying. If it is multiplying, we need to treat,” he said.
He said that with collaboration of government and non-governmental organisations and all people living in the country, the disease would be defeated.