As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s Hepatitis Day, Thursday, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has assured of its commitment towards eliminating the viral disease by 2030.
The FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, made the commitment while flagging-off activities to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day in Abuja.
She said the administration is ready and prepare to align with World Health Organization and other critical stakeholders to achieve hepatitis B, C, and D elimination by 2030.
To achieve this, she said the administration will remain resolute and “working with other critical stakeholders and development partners, to reduce new infections of hepatitis B and C by 90%, reduce hepatitis related deaths from liver cirrhosis and cancer by 65%, ensure that at least 90% of people with hepatitis B and C viruses are diagnosed; and at least 80% of those eligible receive appropriate treatment.”
Aliyu who was represented by the Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board, Dr Yahaya vatsa, also stressed the need to accelerate the fight against the viral hepatitis and the importance of testing and treatment for the real people who need it, in order to preserve its productive demography.
The minister while depicting the worrisome impact of the disease, said “With the negative impact of the disease resulting to deaths in every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness, it is obvious that we have no other option but immediately act on viral hepatitis. It is also worthy of note to point that people living with viral hepatitis unaware can’t wait for testing.”
Vasta decried a situation where communities in the FCT particularly those in the hard-to-reach areas, lack access to hepatitis diagnostics, treatment and preventive interventions.
“Unfortunately, individuals who have incidental screening at blood donation centers or when having laboratory evaluations for other health conditions, even when they realise often lack the knowledge of what to do to manage the situation and most of them are left in the hands of quacks or pay huge sums at some random health facilities to have even suboptimal care.
“As you may be aware, the Public Health Department, Health and Human Services Secretariat of the FCTA with partners, had in the past, evaluated health workers in District Hospitals and other Departments, and Agencies. The findings were appalling as much over 50% of personnel were positive and many others needed hepatitis B vaccinations.
“This goes to show that there is uncoordinated Hepatitis B screening taking place in various communities of the FCT with clients not adequately counselled and managed hence most of them resort to self-help.”
The minister therefore advised healthcare providers to carry out good quality community screening exercise and link clients to adequate management system in the six Area Councils of the FCT while seizing the opportunity granted by the World Hepatitis Day to begin to take deliberate actions.
She charged the Mandate Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat, to direct the Department of Public Health and the FCT Primary Health Care Board with the six Area Councils Health Authorities, to assume leadership roles and coordinate all the above stakeholders towards the achievement of the targets.
“Appropriate public Information, Education and Communication activities with general and targeted contents having community case definition of hepatitis in local languages and English, should be escalated across the six Area Councils, while the HHSS leadership will ensure mass screening and quality management of clients in need.
In his keynote address, the Director of Public Health, Dr Abubakar Sadiq, harp on the need to know ones statues as the long term consequences of Hepatitis is worse that most viral disease.
He assured that the FCTA will however increase access to healthcare services and routine vaccinations especially for children between ages zero to three.
The World Hepatitis Day is an international event celebrated every July 28, with the aim of creating more awareness on prevention and control.