Expert Urges Greater Awareness on Hepatitis

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-As WIHA poises to train 10,000 women champions by 2020

A consultant gastroenterologist- hepatologist, Dr (Mrs) Funke Adeleye, has called for intensive enlightenment campaigns and regular screening for hepatitis, stressing that it is only through examination that the disease can be diagnosed.

The university don, who is the head, Pathology Department, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, Ogun State, made this call while speaking at a recent hepatitis advocacy, awareness and screening programme, organised by Women In Hepatitis Africa (WIHA), at DRF Building, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos.

Speaking on the topic, “What is Hepatitis?”, the medical expert, who is also a board member of WIHA, defined hepatitis as an inflammation of the liver, which she said can either be self- limiting or progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Cross section of participants at the workshop.

She encouraged members of the public to strive to know their hepatitis status by going for regular check-up, adding that those with the condition should quickly seek proper medical attention and avoid self-medication, stressing that hepatitis is a highly contagious disease.

Speaking earlier, the Vice President, Livewell Initiative (LWI), and founder, Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA), Pharm. (Mrs) Bisi Bright, said the programme, tagged, “10 by 20 WIHA Women Champions” (WWCs), was meant to train 10,000 Women Champions in Africa as hepatitis advocates, adding that those who had been trained were expected to go out and train 20 women in their respective communities.

According to her, the aim was to train as many women as possible and turn them to hepatitis champions, so that they can help carry the hepatitis message across, and ensure that women get screened and vaccinated, including their children.

Vice President, Livewell Initiative (LWI), and founder, Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA), Pharm. (Mrs) Bisi Bright.

“We believe that by the time the women have benefited, the men, of course, will definitely enjoy from their wealth of knowledge, thereby emancipating Africa from the claws of hepatitis, which is in line with the WHO’s goal of viral hepatitis elimination by the year 2020,” she said.

Highlighting the challenges currently facing Nigeria in tackling hepatitis, Bright, a clinical pharmacist, and public health practitioner, lamented that the cost of hepatitis test was out of reach of low-income Nigerians, saying many patients had abandoned treatment due to lack of fund or unaffordability of treatment cost.

While conducting a practical session with the participants, who were made up of members of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), one of the speakers, Pharm. (Dr) Nseabasi Ekanem, noted that Over 90 per cent of people living with Viral Hepatitis in Africa were not aware of the scourge, saying the training was organised as a complementary capacity development programme for the members ALPs, so that they could also go out after the training and start impacting lives.

The high point of the event was the practical session that demonstrated how hepatitis screening is done, as well as the presentation of certificates to all the participants.

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