About 18 million Nigerians are estimated to be infected with hepatitis B and C, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said.
He stated this Wednesday in Abuja during a ministerial briefing to commemorate this year’s World Hepatitis Day.
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He said out of this, 16 million are infected with Hepatitis B, while 2.2 million are with Hepatitis C.
He said, “In 2019, 3.8% of the world’s population was living with Chronic Hepatitis B Virus infection and 0.75% with Hepatitis C infection.”
Hepatitis is a disease that causes an inflammation or damage of the tissues of the liver. It can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis. The five types of viral hepatitis are A, B, C, D, and E.
The minister said viral hepatitis remains a disease of public health importance, adding that the mortality rate from both infections is still alarming, despite limited global progress in addressing the scourge.
He said there was low level of awareness, under-reporting, under-diagnosis, and under-treatment of Hepatitis B and C in Nigeria while calling on Nigerians to work together to eliminate viral hepatitis.
WHO Nigeria Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo said more than 90 million people are living with hepatitis in Africa, accounting for 26% of the global total.
He said although the birth dose and pentavalent hepatitis vaccine is provided free of charge for all under five children in Nigeria, the health system is challenged with ensuring access and availability for infants and children and testing and treatment for pregnant women and mothers.