Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus that attacks and injures the liver.
WHO estimates that 296 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection as at 2019, with 1.5 million new infections each year.
Up to one million people across the world die from hepatitis despite the fact that it is highly preventable.
The devastating effects of this disease is a cause for worry and must put the general public on alert.
Government, institutions and individuals must rise up and create awareness about Hepatitis B among rural dwellers especially, and help reduce the spread to save lives.
The good news is that Hepatitis B is preventable because there is a vaccine that protects a person from being infected after coming into contact with the virus, however many are oblivious about this information, thereby moving about and exposing themselves daily to this deadly virus.
Authorities must focus on using preventive approach in dealing with deadly diseases including Hepatitis B and informing the publicabout symptoms to look out for. Such moves go a long way in protecting lives.
Individuals who are located in far to reach areas in the country must not be forgotten because they are the most vulnerable.
Some NGOs and philanthropists continue to go all out to ensure rural dwellers are not left out when it comes to education about protection against Hepatitis B.
MODE OF TRANSMISSION
Throwing more light on the Hepatitis B virus, Dr Bright Effah Sarfo, a medical practitioner stated that the liver could be affected by a group of virus including Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E most commonly but the Hepatitis A and E are not dangerous because the body easily gets rid of them.
He said the A and E are easily contracted through food, especially sea food however Hepatitis B and C are commonly contracted through sexual intercourse, sharing used items like spoons without washing them, kissing infected persons, coming into contact with an infected person’s fluids among others.
Explaining further, he said newborn babies could also acquire Hepatitis B Through the placenta and infected lactating mothers could also pass the virus unto their babies through breastfeeding.
Describing Hepatitis B and C as very dangerous, the doctor said such severe liver infections could result to hepatocellular carcinomas, known as liver cancers.
Dr Sarfo indicated that the symptoms of Hepatitis B one could look out for include, headache, bodily pains and nausea.
He warned that when these symptoms persist and remain ignored, the Hepatitis B virus gets to the very chronic stage and starts decolorizing the eyes, making them look yellow. “Mostly this is when most people become alarmed and seek medical attention but we must not wait until we become very weak when we start experiencing certain unusual symptoms before we think about seeking help. Rush to the hospital any time you start feeling sick.”
THE NEED FOR VACCINATION
According to Dr Sarfo, Hepatitis B has become very common in Ghana and was affecting sufferers of the disease and their families badly so there is the need for unvaccinated persons to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones.
He also cautioned against buying food from street food vendors, adding that some research had proven that many roadside food vendors have not vaccinated against the deadly infectious virus but were busy out there cooking and serving unsuspecting members of the public with food and water.
Going for the Hepatitis B Vaccine, he said protects one against contracting the virus, adding that after ten years of receiving the initial vaccine, one could go for booster doses “and you will be safe for life.”
The medical practitioner also cautioned newborn mothers against missing child welfare clinic appointments, popularly known as weighing, to ensure their babies do not miss the Hepatitis B vaccine and other equally important immunisations and vaccinations.
WHERE TO GET THE VACCINE
Dr Sarfo revealed that the Hepatitis B vaccine could be administered at any health facility with a public health department “So I advise all unvaccinated individuals to get vaccinated, it is safe and very affordable.”
CAMPAIGNING TO SAVE LIVES
All must come on board, including the media, to champion the course of educating the masses on the dangerous impact of this iller virus which has no cure.
The needless loss of lives to Hepatitis B and C must stop now!
BY RAISSA SAMBOU