Nigerian government pledges support to efforts aimed at eradicating hepatitis in the country in the next 5 years
Nigerian government has pledged its commitment to the eradication of hepatitis in the country, this was revealed by the country’s health minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole.
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver due to a number of factors including the presence of toxic substances or infections caused by a protozoan parasite or viruses. People affected by viral hepatitis usually recover, but some continue to carry the virus for many years and can spread the infection to others. These are chronic carriers.
Chronic hepatitis may persist for years and lead eventually to cirrhosis (destruction and replacement of liver cells by fibrous tissue). A substantial number of cirrhotics end up with liver cancer. Chronic carriers serve as an important source of new infections; most have no signs or symptoms and an estimated two-thirds are unaware of their status.
Hepatitis B virus is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV and it is estimated that over two billion people are infected worldwide and approximately one million deaths occur annually from HBV related illnesses. There are 300-400 million carriers of HBV in the world. Several studies have demonstrated that HBV is endemic in Nigeria and have also shown the sero-prevalence among various groups. About 170 million people are infected with hepatitis C virus.
According to Society of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria, Nigeria have put the burden of Hepatitis B in most Nigerian cities to an average of 13 percent translating to an estimated 20 million people infected. This means that at least 1 out of every 10 Nigerian is a chronic carrier of hepatitis B and not only at risk of liver diseases and death but also at risk of transmitting it to others. It is estimated that about 5 million die annually due to the consequences of this disease.
“Viral hepatitis is described as a ‘silent killer’ because most persons do not realize that they are infected and usually are without any clinical symptoms. Over decades, the disease slowly progress to damage the liver. Symptoms of disease appear in advanced stages of disease when the effect of medical care will be limited.”