TODAY, Nigeria joins the world to mark the 2016 World Hepatitis Day, as medical expert, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike has disclosed that one in every Nigerian is infected with Hepatitis B or C. Anyaike, a community health physician, said that the viral hepatitis had become a public health concern in the country with about 20,000 Nigerians infected with hepatitis B and C. He further said that many people stood the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver, adding that most carriers of the virus were ignorant, which makes it transferable to other people around them. “People should be aware through public sensitisation on the burden of viral hepatitis in Nigeria, and for the various strata of the government to commit some funds to fight viral hepatitis in the country,” he said. Also, Dr David Olusegun, president, Viral Hepatitis Association of Nigeria, said that more than 12 percent of Nigerians were infected with hepatitis. He said, “These deaths are primarily from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis C, chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C cause approximately 80 percent of the world’s liver cancer.” Olusegun, who expressed concern over the low level of awareness of the disease, said that the mode of contracting the disease was similar to the way a person was infected with HIV. “A lot of patients who are HIV positive are also hepatitis positive because the mode of transmission is the same,” he said. He, however, said that there was vaccination against hepatitis A and B, but there was no vaccination against hepatitis C for now. “Hepatitis A is not a big issue for an adult, because the way hepatitis A is transmitted is through oral or faecal route. If a person is unhygienic he could be infected with hepatitis A, he added. According to World Health Organisation, WHO, hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world. WHO also says that globally, more than 400 million people are affected by the viral hepatitis making anyone to be at risk because of the size of the epidemic nature of the disease. According to the WHO, acute infection of hepatitis may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, among others Also, WHO has advised that if governments could scale up treatment, about seven million lives could be saved between 2015 and 2030. According to medical experts, the viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. It affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year, mostly from hepatitis B and C. It is estimated that only five percent of people with chronic hepatitis know of their infection, and less that one perce4nt have access to treatment. The theme for the 2016 World Hepatitis Day, is ‘Know Hepatitis, Act Now.’ The World Hepatitis Day is celebrated on July 28of every year. It is a day set aside by the
WHO to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis and urge partners and member- states to support the roll-out of the first Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis for 2016–2021, which was approved during the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016. The new strategy introduces the first-ever global targets for viral hepatitis which include a 30 percent reduction in new cases of hepatitis.

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