The federal government has inaugurated a 24-man Technical Working Committee, consisting of Federal Ministry of Health departments, government agencies, private sector, development partners, non governmental organisations (NGOs) and the academia to come up with a patriotic, articulated and cost effective framework for viral hepatitis control for Nigeria.
Inaugurating the group on Monday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, who spoke on the theme, "Action Against Rising Incidence of Viral Hepatitis in Nigeria," lamented that much attention had. not been given to hepatitis control globally, especially in Nigeria even when the burden of hepatitis was rapidly increasing and the progress could be effectively prevented.
Chukwu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Ambassador Sani Bala, said, “In view of the impact of hepatitis on health caused partly by commonly practised human activities, it is important to act now so that together we can contribute to protecting our citizens from morbidity and mortality from hepatitis."
He said much of the health risks were avoidable through adequate awareness creation, behavioural change education and ensuring effective screening of all blood for transfusion.
According to the minister, Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E are responsible for chronic infection of the liver while more than two billion people are infected with Hepatitis B virus worldwide with about 280 million chronic carriers, having the virus in their liver.
In her remarks, the chairman of the technical working committee and director, Public Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Bridget Okoeguale, said the increasing trend of hepatitis was worrisome as it was being experienced in colleges and tertiary institutions.
She noted that lack of awareness of the virus was responsible for devastating health damage among the citizenry.