The Cross River State Government in collaboration with Society for Gastro Enterology and Hepatology in Nigeria and lions club International
joined the global Community in marking this year’s World Hepatitis Day across all 18 local government areas of the state with street awareness/road show, screening and vaccination of citizens against the disease.
In Calabar the state capital, the procession was led by the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Janet Ekpenyong who represented the wife of the state governor, Dr Linda Ayade as she led the sensitization across adjoining streets in Calabar Municipal Council.
Speaking to newsmen after the street awareness and campaign to enlighten the general populace on one of the world’s deadliest diseases, Dr Ekpenyong disclosed that the prevalence of Hepatitis particularly Hepatitis B and C in the state calls for intensified sensitization and precautions in order to effectively manage its spread.
Considering that the disease is highly infectious and a silent killer, Ekpenyong said it is important people have understanding of what Hepatitis is, its signs and symptoms as well as its mode of transmission which unprotected sexual activities, blood transfusion and sharing of sharp objects are the major means of getting infected with Hepatitis B and C virus.
She noted that with this year’s theme, “Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to You”, the focus is now facility and community oriented as she promised that the screening will now be done in as many facilities as possible to encourage people to voluntarily get themselves tested, vaccinated and treated as the case may be.
“We are encouraging all of our people to come and get tested for Hepatitis.
The most common among us are the type B and C which affected over 70 million people in Africa in 2021 and over 20 million people in Nigeria according to the World Health Organization.
“With this year’s theme, ” Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to You”, we are ensuring that we get the necessary kits and attention to our various healthcare centres within our respective communities in order to encourage our people to voluntarily go into facilities for screening and vaccination.
We have mandated all of our personnel to carry out screening for all pregnant women who come in for antenatal services just like the practice with HIV.
For today’s activity, over 500 people will be screened and vaccinated.
“We have also set up a special team to visit Boki Local Government Area which records the highest number of Hepatitis infection in the state, to ensure testing and vaccination, we are ready to combat the virus and possibly put an end to Hepatitis related deaths.
“However, we will appeal to federal government and international organizations to pay attention to Hepatitis by ensuring free access to testing as well as vaccination because currently, such services are not free.
Also speaking, Dr Mbang Ada, a consultant Gastro Enterology and secretary of SOGHIN highlighted the common symptoms of the diseases ranging from fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, jaundice, weight loss etc.
She also reiterated the need for pregnant women to be tested and those positive should ensure that their babies receive the special vaccine that will protect them against the disease. She also said SOGHIN is committed to supporting the state in ensuring that positive Hepatitis cases will be linked to where proper treatment will be instituted.
She encouraged Cross Riverians not to wait for government, but should take the leap and get tested and vaccinated.
On behalf of the Lions club International, Lion Olanikpekun also committed to supporting the state government create awareness and encourage people to get tested and vaccinated.
The president of medical women association, Cross River State, Dr Vivian Otu and other exco members were present at the event.
Also present were Directors from State Ministry of Health and the state Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
Hepatitis virus is a highly infectious disease. There are 5 major types A,B,C,D and E. A and D are usually linked to transmission via fecal oral route, contaminated water, while the common ones B and C are
found in blood and certain body fluids. It is spread when a person who is not immune comes in contact with blood or body fluids from an infected person with its common causes including unprotected sexual activities with infected persons, fluid and blood contacts among others.
COVID-19 vaccination and condom distribution were also integrated in the services provided.