There is an impending hepatitis epidemic looming over Nigeria except something is urgently done to check the situation.
One of the tenants in the house across the street from where I live recently passed away from liver damage caused by hepatitis infection. The doctor who diagnosed him advised that everybody who had close contact with him while he was ill should go for a hepatitis test. A neighbor of his who remembered shaking hands with him on several occasions decided to do a hepatitis test for himself, his wife and his four children, lo and behold, he and one of his sons tested positive to the virus.
About 2 people just recently passed away in an organisation located in Lagos State from complications from the disease and about five other people from the same organisation are critically ill from related symptoms, the organisation decided to conduct a compulsory hepatitis test and vaccination for all members of staff, the test revealed that 20 percent of the members of staff were already infected with the virus; these are just a few among the20 million Nigerians that are infected with hepatitis, out of which an estimated 5 million die annually
Hepatitis is a disease that attacks the liver. There are five types of hepatitis: hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Understanding how the different types of hepatitis spread is the first key to prevention.
Depending on the type, two main ways that hepatitis passes from person to person are contact with infected blood or other body fluids, and contact with infected feces. Hepatitis A and E are excreted through the feces of an infected person. You can become infected with hepatitis A or E if you ingest contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis types B, C, and D are spread primarily through contact with infected blood. Sexual transmission is a less common but still important route of exposure, especially for hepatitis B.
Vaccines are available to protect you against hepatitis A and B so get yourself and your family members’ Hepatitis A and B Immunization done.
Regular hand washing or the frequent use of hand sanitizers can also protect us from hepatitis A and E which spreads through contaminated water and food.
Community Health & Advocacy Initiative (CHAIN) is appealing to the Nigerian government, both at the national and State levels to make provisions for free testing and vaccination for Nigerians, since this is the surest way to check the spread of the disease. Free but voluntary tests and vaccination can be organized for schools, government offices and at primary health care centers for the community people.
Its Executive Director, Juliana Iregbu-Ihejirika said CHAIN is also advocating for increased commitment by the Nigerian government in pursuing the sustainable development goals in Nigeria as it relates to health by at least honouring the 2001 Abuja Declaration Agreement of allocating at least 15% of the country’s annual budget to health.
Since the declaration, Nigeria has not attained the pledged funding benchmark as the federal government has never voted more than six percent of its annual budget to the health sector.The highest percentage since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% of the budget was allotted to health.
In the 2018 Budget proposal presented by President MuhammaduBuhari, he allocated N340.45 billion, representing 3.9 percent of the N8.6 trillion expenditure plan to the health sector. The allocation is less than the 4.16 percent and 4.23 percent made to the health sector by the administration in the 2017 and 2016 budgets.
With the present attitude of the Nigerian government towards financing health programmes in Nigeria, achieving the sustainable development goal of ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030 in Nigeria would never be attainable.
CHAIN is a non-governmental not-for-profit organization based in Lagos and working to strengthen health systems and improve health outcomes in communities across Nigeria through research, capacity building, public enlightenment, strategic health interventions and advocacy.