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WHO: Over 19 Million Nigerians Living with Hepatitis B and C

WHO: Over 19 Million Nigerians Living with Hepatitis B and C

Experts have made calls of concern due to the recent rise in cases of Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) in Nigeria. With each viral strain having an 8.1% and 1.1% rate of infection respectively in the country, it has made Nigeria one of the countries with the highest number of cases with bodies like  WHO estimating a value of 19 million Nigerians living with the disease.

The warning was made during an online meeting with healthcare workers across the Sub-Saharan region of Africa.  The prevalence of the Hepatitis strains on the continent of Africa was one of the main items discussed and evaluated with many experts noting that the rise in cases and subsequent deaths were a result of lack of education, lack of infrastructure, and lack of proper public health and welfare programs. They declared the situation unacceptable and commiserated with the 70 million Africans living with chronic Hepatitis.

Also speaking through a news release was the World Health Organization (WHO) whose studies had indicated that there were at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis in children aged 1 month to 16-years-old. They said that at least one of the children had died, with 17 more requiring liver transplants if they are to survive. But the body did stress that it wasn’t yet clear whether there was truly an increase in hepatitis cases or an increase in awareness of the disease, bringing to light infections that might otherwise have gone unnoticed or misdiagnosed.

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Prof. Wendy Spearman, Head of the Division of Hepatology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital said that the main impact of the disease was due to its viral nature and its debilitating effects on the liver. She stressed the need for political powers to give the matter their full support as Hepatitis B can be vaccinated against, Hepatitis C is curable, and that it was unconscionable that millions still died from a disease with no plans of attack against it.

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