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Health News Wed, 24 Jul 2013

World hepatitis day

(Theme: Say No To Ignorance)

World hepatitis Day is slated for 28th July, 2013 at Victoria Park, Sunyani.

World hepatitis Day is an annual event that each year provides international focus for patient groups and people living with hepatitis B and C. It is an opportunity around which interested groups can raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

Hepatitis is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious conditions in the world, but many people – including health policy makers remain unaware of its staggering toll on global health.

This year’s World Hepatitis Day will celebrate by Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana and Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation.

“SAY NO TO IGNORANCE” is the theme for this year’s celebration and aims at telling people that approximately 1 in 12 people living with either hepatitis B or C globally.

There will be an extensive public awareness programme starting from Techiman on the 26th July 2013 and the main event will take place at the Victoria Park, Sunyani on the 28th July 2013. As part of activities to mark the day, Sunday morning there will be float through principal streets of Sunyani. There will also be free screening, vaccination, counseling and education on hepatitis B and C.

“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. It refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D, and E. The most common types are the A, B, and C.

Hepatitis B and C viruses are the cause of a growing number of new liver cancer cases and liver transplants. In the Ghana, hepatitis is a leading infectious cause of death, claiming the lives of thousands of Ghanaians each year. While we have come far, work still needs to be done to prevent and treat this disease.

Viral hepatitis touches Ghanaians of all backgrounds, but certain groups are at greater risk than others. Past recipients of donated blood, infants born to mothers infected with viral hepatitis, and persons with sexually transmitted diseases or behaviors such as injection-drug use have risks for viral hepatitis and tribal marks.

The fight against viral hepatitis in Ghana is at a crossroad when it comes to national policies to raise awareness and to address issues regarding prevention, control, treatment, and stigmatization of infected citizens.

It is time to think about where we go from here, and how we can set the right courses of action or policies to address the problems once-and-for-all. We can do better than what we have been done so far.

The governments should consider viral hepatitis as an urgent public health issue, and come out with comprehensive strategies (of course, in collaboration with the WHO and other development partners) to prevent and control viral hepatitis on the continent. We might need to fine-tune our national health policies.

The primary focus of any national strategy to combat the menace of viral hepatitis on the continent should be prevention for the common adage has it that “prevention is better than cure”. Vaccinating newborn infants against HBV is cost effective than to treat the virus in adulthood.

Any preventive strategy adopted should be targeted at three levels:

? Primary level—to eliminate new infection

? Secondary level—to reduce risk of transmission from chronically infected to others

? Tertiary level—to reduce risk of chronic liver disease.

The strategy should also have the following key elements:

? Increasing national awareness of viral hepatitis through the commemoration of a World Hepatitis Day on 28 of July every year, as the world agreed upon at 63rd World Health Assembly in Geneva on 21 May, 2010

? Providing screening facilities at all local health centres, district polyclinics, and regional government hospitals (e.g. all pregnant women should be tested)

? Strengthening disease surveillance, such as establishing national database to monitor spread of the virus in order to establish patterns of progression would be in the right direction. All local health centres, district polyclinics, and regional government hospitals are required to be involved in viral hepatitis case reporting scheme. Such a disease surveillance scheme would help in predicting, observing, and minimizing any harm caused by outbreak, epidemic and pandemic situations.

? Ensuring those already infected with viral hepatitis have timely access to testing, care, and effective and affordable treatments to delay development of disease and prevent disability and eventual mortality.

It is time for Ghana government to take a serious look at viral hepatitis: how to prevent it spread, and how to provide affordable treatment for those living with viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis B is treatable and Preventable. Know it, confront it and get tested.

Ignorance is not an excuse, Join us on the 28th July 2013 at Victoria Park, Sunyani and let’s say no to ignorance and let’s spread the world but not the virus.

World Hepatitis Day celebration is sponsor by Electricity Company of Ghana, Voltic Mineral water, Accra Brewery Ltd, Horizon Hospital in Kumasi and Bekanas Medilab and diagnostic center and Supported by Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation, Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana, World Hepatitis Alliance and Hepatitis B Foundation in US.

Theobald Owusu-Ansah

Regional Board Member for Africa, World Hepatitis Alliance

President and Founder, Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation

President, Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana

Email: theobald2003@yahoo.com

Mobile: 0247-093893

Source: Theobald Owusu-Ansah