Prioritise fight against Hepatitis – Okyeame Kwame
Hiplife artiste Okyeame Kwame has urged the government to give priority to the fight against Hepatitis to eliminate the disease from Ghana by its 2030 target.
Okyeame Kwame, who has been at the forefront of the campaign against Hepatitis B since 2008, said it was unfortunate that there was little to no funding for the disease although it is 10 times more infectious than HIV.
“I think that because we rely on donor agencies for our development, usually we wait for the donors to dictate which of our diseases we should fight. So much of the money that come to Ghana for health, they go for Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria.
“And because Hepatitis is not a popular disease in terms of ‘donor agencying,’ even though it is 10 times more infectious than HIV, as a nation we don’t put out money on Hepatitis awareness because we are waiting for donor agencies.
“I wish the Ministry of Health will have a budget for World Hepatitis Day celebrations. I wish the Ministry will put out a statement on the day and I wish the Ministry will bring people together: NGOs, researchers and all other stakeholders, to develop a plan that actually shows how we are going to achieve Hepatitis elimination by 2030,” he said.
Okyeame Kwame made some suggestions, including vaccinating children at birth against Hepatitis and also adding Hepatitis drugs and vaccines to the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“The easiest way of transmission is from mother to child so we need to find a way to add the vaccine to the Seven Killer Diseases so that immediately the child is born, he or she gets the shot and will never get the disease. I believe that if we go like this, by 2030 Hepatitis will be a thing of the past.
“Another thing we should do is to find a way to embark on free screening and vaccination in homes, beginning from the rural areas. We also need to engage with the pharmaceutical companies that sell potent drugs because the import duties are high. If we reduce the duties, then we can get them to reduce their prices,” he said.
Every July 28 is World Hepatitis Day and this year’s is on the theme: “Find the missing millions.”
According to statistics from worldhepatitisday.org, 1.34 million people die every year from Hepatitis while worldwide, around 300 million people are living with the disease but are unaware.
Since 2008, when he got to know about how dangerous the disease is and how expensive the tests are, Okyeame Kwame has on every World Hepatitis Day embarked on a free screening and vaccination drive with support from MDS Lancet Laboratories and the Ministry of Health, among others.
This year, because the celebration falls on Sunday, Okyeame Kwame will hold the screening on Friday, July 26 at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly from 9 a.m.