As the world marks the 2021 World Hepatitis Day, today, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, says an estimated 19million Nigerians are living with Hepatitis B and C undiagnosed.
This number, he said, is part of the over 290million people living with the ailment globally without knowing it, thus making it mandatory for such people to be identified and linked to care.
“Worldwide, over 290million people living with hepatitis are unaware of their status… According to the National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) 2018, our country, Nigeria bears a huge burden of viral hepatitis with a prevalence rate of 8.1% for hepatitis B and 1.1% for hepatitis C.
“This translates to an estimated 19million people for hepatitis B and C, including co-infection of both. Knowledge of viral hepatitis remains low amongst Nigerians despite being a leading infectious cause of death each year.
“As a consequence, most of the estimated 19million Nigerians living with Viral Hepatitis B or C are underdiagnosed.
Chike, who stated this in his broadcast to mark the 2021 World Hepatitis Day in the state, noted that this situation has created the environment for further spread of the ailment.
According to him, it has increased “The likelihood of future transmission to others and placing them at greater risk of severe, even fatal health complications such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)”.
The commissioner, however, noted that both hepatitis B and C are preventable through vaccination, which is available in both public and private health facilities in Rivers State.
“Hepatitis B vaccine provides life-long immunity and the vaccination is available in both public and private health facilities in Rivers State. While hepatitis B is treatable, there is cure for hepatitis C”, he said.
He used the opportunity to urge people to get vaccinated early enough to prevent infection, and tested to determine their status.
“Rivers State Government”, he stated, “has functional PCR machines that are calibrated for both hepatitis B, C and HIV, domiciled at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital which has been designated as the flag ship and apex centre for the testing and treatment of hepatitis”.
The World Hepatitis Day is commemorated yearly on July 28 to raise awareness on the global burden of viral hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver.
The commemoration is also aimed at influencing real change towards the elimination of viral hepatitis.
The theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is, “Hepatitis Can’t Wait”.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said no fewer than three million people become infected every year with the Hepatitis virus.
Every 30 seconds, one person in the world dies of a disease caused by hepatitis.
The United Nations has planned to largely contain the various forms of viral hepatitis by 2030.
But to achieve this, diagnosis and treatment must be improved.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said this ahead of the World Hepatitis Day, today.
This year, the motto of World Hepatitis Day is, “Hepatitis Can’t Wait’’.
The WHO had called on governments to campaign to get more people tested and treated.
“Hepatitis was an inflammation of the liver that can lead to severe liver disease and cancer.
“There are five different types of viral hepatitis, from A to E.
“They are triggered by viruses that are not related to each other,’’ WHO stated.
The pathogens are transmitted through contaminated food in the case of A and E, or through blood and sexual contact in the case of B and C.
Hepatitis D only developed in people who have hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B and C are the most widespread and one of the main causes of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
According to WHO, an estimated 354million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis B or C.
Three million people become infected every year, and 1.1million people die from it.
Although the diseases can be cured, there is a problem with diagnosis.
According to WHO estimation in 2019, only 21 per cent of people with chronic hepatitis C knew they were infected.
For hepatitis B, it is only 10 per cent of the infected persons knew of their infections.
Because people at high risk of infection, such as some drug users and men who have sex with men, tend to be harder for health services to reach, WHO is advocating the provision of self-tests for hepatitis C.
In a new manual, it recommends how and where such tests can be given and helpers trained to use them.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
Fashola Faults ‘Coat Of Arms’ Display On National Flag
Former Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has cautioned Nigerians from inscribing the coat of arms on the national flag, saying doing so is a misuse of the national colours.
Fashola said this on Monday, during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Empowering Tomorrow: A New Vision for Nigeria, a special programme on the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence celebrated annually on October 1.
“Just this afternoon, I was asked to hoist a flag of Nigeria. By the time the flag unfurled, I saw that there was a coat of arms in the middle and I whispered to my host that ‘this is not the flag of Nigeria’. Nigeria’s flag does not have a coat of arms in the middle. It is green, white, and green”, Fashola said.
The former minister also said that Nigerians should pay attention to “some of the small things that matter”, adding that national symbols are to be rendered during recognised events for the country at large.
“When I was in primary school, these were the symbolisms of those Independence Day parades, Children’s Day parades, and this was how we were taught to stand up or maintain our position whenever we heard Nigeria’s national anthem being rendered,” Fashola said.
“You sit today and you shudder in your skin what happens today, what people have been taught when the national anthem is rendered”, he added.
The former governor of Lagos also spoke out against the rendition of the national anthem “at every little event”, including when the president appears at a social event, saying it is to be sung as the symbol of the country’s sovereignty.
“I have had cause to ask people not to sing the anthem for me, either as governor or minister, because I’m not a sovereign. It’s a projection of our minds,” he said.
“These are, for me, the important things to talk about and that’s why I say this anniversary provides an opportunity for reflection and, indeed, inflection”, Fashola added.
NCDC Records 1,968 Lassa Fever Cases In 28 States
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has registered 1,068 Lassa fever infections across 112 local government areas in 28 states of the federation.
The NCDC said this yesterday, via its official website in its Lassa Fever Situation Report for Week 37 (September 11 -17, 2023).
The centre indicated that 75 percent of the cases were detected in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states.
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. It is primarily found in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine or feces of infected rodents, specifically the multimammate rat.
According to the NCDC, there are currently 7,352 individuals with suspected cases and the infection has resulted in the unfortunate loss of at least 181 lives in the country.
The centre said that the case-fatality ratio of the infection stood at 16.9 percent.
“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 37, 2023, 181 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 16.9 percent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.1 percent).
“In total for 2023, 28 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 112 local government areas.
“Seventy-five percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from these three states (Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi) while 25 percent were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.
“Of the 75 percent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 35 percent, Edo 29 percent, and Bauchi 11 percent.
“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 93 years, Median Age: 32 years).
“The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9. The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022,” it said.
It said that in 2023, Lassa fever infected 49 healthcare workers across the country.
The agency said that the National Lassa Fever Multi-partner, Multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre had been activated to coordinate the response activities at all levels.
It added that prevention of Lassa fever involves avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, practising good personal hygiene and taking precautions when caring for infected individuals.
The NCDC said that early diagnosis and prompt medical care are crucial in managing the disease and preventing complications.
Army Orders Investigation Into Allegation Of Troops’ Poor Feeding
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has ordered an investigation into an allegation of poor feeding of frontline troops in the North East Theatre of Operations.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, made this known in a statement in Abuja, yesterday.
Nwachukwu said that the welfare of troops had been given premium by the present leadership of the Nigerian Army and was one of the vital pillars of the COAS Command Philosophy targeted at motivating the Force.
“The Nigerian army therefore takes these allegations very seriously and COAS has directed immediate investigation into the complaints to ascertain its veracity and unravel the circumstances,” the army spokesman said.
Nwachukwu assured the public and all army personnel that a thorough investigation would be conducted to get to the bottom of the claims.
He said the Nigerian army had always prioritised the welfare of troops, including their nutrition, adding that it has a comprehensive feeding system for troops, especially those serving at the frontline.
“We, however, acknowledge that there may be isolated incidents where lapses occur, and we are determined to squarely address them.
“An internal investigation has already been initiated to ascertain the truth behind these allegations.
“We will thoroughly examine the supply chain, the quality of food provided, and any other factors that may have contributed to this situation,” he said.
Nwachukwu stressed that the Nigerian army remained committed to transparency and accountability, and would not condone any form of negligence or misconduct.
“If any culpability is detected, it will attract appropriate disciplinary action and immediate corrective measures to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future,” he assured.
Nwachukwu called on Army personnel to report any grievances or concerns they might have regarding their feeding arrangements through the established channels for feedback, assuring that prompt action would be taken to address any legitimate complaints.
He said that the Army would continue to be resolute in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges, and would ensure that its soldiers were provided with the necessary support and care to carry out their duties effectively.
“We are committed to ensuring that our troops are well-fed, motivated, and equipped to defend our nation,” he added.
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