The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on Nigeria and other member states in the region to increase efforts toward the elimination of viral hepatitis,Dailytrust report.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made the call in her statement Sunday to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day. The theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day, is ‘One Life, One Liver’.

She said, “I encourage policymakers and partners to demonstrate political commitment to sustain and simplify hepatitis testing, prevention, and treatment as part of broader liver health and primary health care to achieve viral hepatitis elimination.”

She enjoined communities to take up hepatitis vaccination, hepatitis testing, treatment and curative services through all available health services.

She said more than 91 million Africans were living with hepatitis, adding that in 2019, an estimated 1.2 million new hepatitis infections and 125,000 hepatitis-related deaths occurred in the African region. Dr Moeti said WHO’s global hepatitis strategy, endorsed by all WHO member states, and the Framework for an Integrated Multisectoral Response to TB, HIV, STIs, and Hepatitis in the WHO African region aimed to reduce new hepatitis infections by 90% and deaths by 65% by 2030.

She said WHO supports regional and national efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030 by providing clear guidance for decentralized and simplified person-centred prevention, testing and treatment of viral hepatitis, including eliminating hepatitis B through birth dose vaccination (the day of birth or the day after).

“A lot still needs to be done to reduce hepatitis-related deaths and infections. Despite the availability of diagnostic tools and effective treatment, more than 90% of people living with hepatitis in Africa do not receive the care they need, and less than 10% of the population has access to testing and treatment,” she said.

The WHO regional rep said this has led to progressive advanced liver disease, devastating financial burden, emotional distress and stigma, adding that testing and treatment as a public health approach, remained the most neglected aspect of the response.

She lamented that coverage for routine childhood vaccination against Hepatitis B in the region stood at 72%, far below the global target of 90%. She called on member states to scale up hepatitis B immunization coverage to reach the globally agreed target of 90%.


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