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The National policy on viral hepatitis has been launched to help prevent the transmission of viral hepatitis within high risk groups and free the country of the public health problem.
The policy would also give direction as to the provision of quality driven, results-oriented, client-focused and affordable viral hepatitis prevention and control services in order to improve the health status of people living with and at risk of hepatitis in Ghana.
Ghana belongs to the areas where the prevalence of chronic hepatitis B viral infection and that of hepatitis C virus is high.
However, research has shown that the disease can be prevented by knowing one’s status and getting vaccinated for hepatitis B if tested negative.
The policy would, therefore, include guidelines for surveillance and response, laboratory diagnosis, prevention of viral hepatitis, advocacy communication and social mobilisation, treatment, care and support, research, regulation, implementation framework, monitoring and evaluation.
The policy was launched during the commemoration of the World Hepatitis Day in Accra on the theme: ‘Prevent Viral Hepatitis- Act Now’.
The call for action was to generate both political and public awareness and actions around the need to prevent viral hepatitis B and C infections.
Dr Badu Sarkodie, Director, Public Health Division GHS, said there are effective tools available to prevent infection with viral hepatitis, including education, screening and treatment.
“We call on persons to know their risk and exposure to hepatitis B and C and know how to prevent themselves from becoming infected,” he said.
Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, in a speech read on his behalf by the John Appiah, Director of Administration at the Ministry of Health, said to drive the policy and see to its proper implementation, a national programme for hepatitis control has been established to coordinate all the activities in the policy implementation.
“It is important that all organisations playing various roles in the fight against viral hepatitis rally behind the programme to ensure a coordinated attack on our common enemy,” he said.
Dr Emmanuel Dotse, Programme Manager of National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme, giving the rationale for the policy said 162 people have died so far from viral hepatitis.
He said the figure recorded in 2012 shows an increase in the annual trend of reported clinical viral hepatitis cases from 5,915 in 2011 to 12, 740 in 2012 across the 10 regions of Ghana.
He said there was also limited knowledge among health staff and the general public, thus the policy to raise awareness on its prevention and treatment.
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