The Ghana Health Service (GHS) kicked off this year’s World Hepatitis Day by appealing to those infected to stick only to prescribed medications during treatment processes.
“The truth is that not everyone needs treatment depending on the stage of infection. For example, for hepatitis B, only 10-25% of patients need treatment, it therefore, there is no need to subject yourself to herbal and other non-prescription drugs that could damage your liver,” said National Viral Hepatitis Program Manager Dr. Atsu Godwin Seake. -Kwaku.
Around 60-80% of liver cancer cases worldwide may be linked to viral hepatitis.
In Ghana, approximately 1.5 million new hepatitis B and C infections are recorded each year.
GHS data indicates that the prevalence of hepatitis B is around 12.3% of the population, with hepatitis C around 3.3% in 2019.
About 820,000 deaths from hepatitis B and 299,000 from hepatitis C are recorded each year in the country.
Dr Seake-Kwaku, in a presentation at the launch, said the condition was rapidly increasing in the country, which called for scaled-up interventions to reduce the flare-up.
A major shortcoming in the fight against hepatitis, he noted, was the lack of a birth dose for newborns within 24 hours of delivery, which exposed a large number of citizens to the infection later in life.
Other factors, including risky sex and injections, blood and surgeries, he said, put people at risk of infection.
The program manager observed that low disease awareness, poor screening and testing, under-reporting, high cost of medical treatment, myths and misconceptions about viral hepatitis were also a challenge.
He said the Service, together with the government and its agencies, was working to fill the gaps in the fight against hepatitis, including ensuring that viral hepatitis drugs were included in the list of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) emergency medicines.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure we get the birth dose as soon as possible to fill the gaps of zero to six weeks without vaccination against the virus,” he added.
Dr Seake-Kwaku called on businesses and development partners to support the fight against viral hepatitis to reach the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination goal by 2030.
Director of Public Health, GHS, Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, said the service was embarking on a project to determine the number of pregnant women with the disease to effectively vaccinate them at delivery.
This, he said, was part of measures to bring hepatitis care closer to primary health facilities and communities for better access to treatment and care.
Observed on July 28 each year, the WHD seeks to highlight the need to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis to influence real change.
This year’s commemoration is themed “Bringing Hepatitis Care to Communities – Hepatitis Can’t Wait”, which aims to raise awareness of the need to simplify and bring hepatitis care to communities. primary health facilities, community settings and locations beyond hospital sites. , so that care is closer to communities and people everywhere.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver and usually results from a viral infection.
There are five main types of hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E.