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Health News of Sunday, 29 January 2017


‘Hepatitis B can be acquired at age 5’

Members of the Ghana Association for the Study of Liver and Digestive Diseases are advocating a nationwide campaign to increase public awareness on Hepatitis.

Interacting with TV3 after a one-day training workshop for health experts on the hepatitis B, the national president of the association, Dr Mary Yeboah Afihene, said only a few of the estimated 10-15 percent of Ghanaian adults with chronic hepatitis are aware of their condition.

Hepatitis B patients contract the disease before age five but detection and treatment could delay after extensive damage has been done to the liver. The workshop was attended by health experts from Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions to embark on a campaign to increase public awareness on the spread of hepatitis B and C. Dr Yeboah Afihene warned that the country risk losing many of its productive youth to hepatitis if no action is taken immediately to stem the tide.

The renowned hematologist wants screening for the disease intensified to cover the entire populace for appropriate intervention. “When we study the disease, we realize that the Hepatitis B is acquired very early in life. About half of people get it before the age of five and by the time they are 15 most people have gotten the disease.

“What that means is that when it causes cancer of the liver, most of the people are quite young. So we are losing young people and it’s important that we have general screening of the population so that we identify people who have Hepatitis.” Consultant hematologist at KATH, Dr Baba Tunde, observed that it is important that at birth, babies are given a dose of hepatitis B vaccine to every baby even before they get their regular vaccinations which start at 6 weeks.

He noted W.H.O recommends the birth dose but it is not being practiced in many places.