As Nigeria celebrates the 2015 World Hepatitis Day, the Federal Government has launched the first National Policy for Viral Hepatitis in Africa.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute who did the launch on behalf of the government noted that it was expedient to collectively contribute to protection of people from morbidity and mortality caused by viral hepatitis which is a public health challenge caused by practical human activities.
Speaking further, Awute noted that the WHD is celebrated on the 28th of July every year but the ministry was celebrating the day for the first time.
He said, ‘’ it is a day set aside by the WHO to create awareness globally on the dangers of this silent killer and ways to prevent and manage the disease.’’
He noted that, viral hepatitis has continued to be a global public health challenge with about 2 billion people infected with the Hepatitis B virus globally.
In his words: “a 2013 WHO report indicated that, viral hepatitis is responsible for 1.44 million deaths with an estimated 500 million people currently living with it.”
Although there is no comprehensive national data in Nigeria, a recent population-based survey conducted by the FMOH in 2013 prevalence of viral hepatitis B and C to be 11.0 percent and 2.2 percent respectively, he said.
In spite of the high prevalence of the disease in the country, Awute noted that most carriers are not aware and they are at the risk of developing Liver Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma which are the consequences of chronic hepatitis.
The Permanent Secretary further explained that, viral hepatitis which is the inflammation of the liver is caused by hepatitis virus A, B, C, D and E and the Hepatitis A and B and are both vaccine preventable while hepatitis C is not preventable but has a new drug treatment that has been shown to have high cure.
Rex Mpazanje, Officer who represented WHO at the occasion said the World Hepatitis Day was to raise awareness on viral Hepatitis with this year’s global theme of “Prevent hepatitis- Act now”.

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