Health News of Sunday, 28 July 2013

Source: GNA

Ghana rated high risk for Hepatitis B, C

Ghana is rated a high risk country for Hepatitis B and C with between 10 and 15 percent prevalence rate.

Dr Nii Anum Ayerh, Vice President of the Hepatitis Society of Ghana, said out of every 100 Ghanaians, 13 may test positive for Hepatitis B, which is far more prevalent than HIV/AIDS.

He said currently, Hepatitis B and C had no cure but people who had tested positive could be managed to have prolonged lifespan.

He, therefore, advised all Ghanaians to get tested and vaccinated against such a highly infectious disease.

Dr Ayerh gave the advice at a durbar held at Sekondi on Friday to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day, which is celebrated on July 28 every year.

It was organised by the Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana in collaboration with the Hepatitis Society of Ghana and Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana.

The event was on the theme; “This is Hepatitis, Know It, Confront It,” was aimed at creating awareness about the disease.

Dr Ayerh said most people were not aware of the disease, adding “even if people are aware, they had not been vaccinated for protection”.

He called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to educate and vaccinate the citizenry against the disease.

He said currently, only children undergoing primary immunization were having free immunization against the disease and advocated placement of Hepatitis B and C vaccination on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cover.

Explaining the mode of transmission, Dr Ayerh said an infected mother could pass it to her child at birth, using razor blades, needles, toothbrush and nail cutters of infected people, as well as having unprotected sex with an infected person.

Dr Anthony Richard, Western Regional Coordinator of the Hepatitis Society of Ghana, said if the virus was not detected early, it became a chronic hepatitis which affected the liver and resulted in cancer and inflammation of the liver.

He said chronic hepatitis would also show symptoms such as severe cold, yellowish eyes, swollen legs, lack of appetite for food, high body temperature and redness of the liver.

Dr Ted Avotri, Sekondi/Takoradi Health Director, said in an address read on his behalf that in 2012, the metropolis recorded 719 cases of Hepatitis B out of 5,895 people tested.

He said this year out of 1,043 people screened 144 had the virus and called for continuous education on the disease.

Currently, 500 million people worldwide are said to be living with Hepatitis B virus with 200 million infected with Hepatitis C.

Free screening and counseling was organised for Hepatitis B and C to mark the occasion.