Public urged to test, know Hepatitis status

The Executive Director of Healthy Liver Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, Alfred Yanful Ahenkorah has encouraged Ghanaians to take seriously the responsibility of testing to know their hepatitis status.

“Not knowing your status will rather kill you and not the virus. People must understand that the Hepatitis viruses are silent infection which means one can live with it even without knowing and that is more dangerous.

“People should take charge of their health and deliberately test for hepatitis such that if you are negative, you take the three-dose vaccine to protect yourself and if positive, undergo needed treatment,” he advised in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day.

Observed every July 28, this year’s WHD is on the theme; “Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to Communities- Hep Can’t Wait,” to drum home the need to simplify and bring hepatitis care to primary health facilities, community-based venues and locations beyond hospital sites, so that care is closer to communities and people wherever they are.

The Executive Director said the endemicity of chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in Ghana requires that urgent steps are taken to save the population from recurring infection.

“The prevalence of HBV is pegged at 12.4 per cent which means out of every eight Ghanaians, two are likely to be positive for the virus so currently it is estimated that more than 3.9 million Ghanaians are living with the virus yet, about 90 per cent of these individuals are not aware of their status.”

Mr Ahenkorah observed that, mother-to-child transmission of HBV which accounts for almost 70 per cent of all new infections in the country was unacceptable.

While calling for intensified hepatitis education to improve testing, diagnosis and treatment, the nurse by profession, implored government and health authorities to intensify efforts at procuring the birth dose for newborns to reduce infection rate in the country.

“We should decentralise activities around HBV; make testing more accessible, ensure vaccines are available and subsidise the cost of treatment for Hepatitis B under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

HBV is preventable through vaccination and we are calling on the public to take keen interest in knowing their status and vaccinate or seek treatment for HBV. Together, we can achieve a Hepatitis B free country,” he stated.

Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver and is commonly as a result of a viral infection.

There are five main types of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E.

The disease presently accounts for about 60 to 80 per cent of liver cancer cases globally and an estimated 1.5 million new infections of Hepatitis B and C are recorded in Ghana annually.

About 820,000 deaths from Hepatitis B and 299,000 from Hepatitis C are recorded in the country each year.


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