December 20, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
23% of blood donors, 21% of HIV/AIDS patients and 9 to 10% of Health Care workers have hepatitis B. in Sierra Leone. Hepatitis B. is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic diseases. It is a major global health problem and most serious type of viral hepatitis. Hepatitis B mostly results to liver-cirrhosis and liver cancer which lead to liver failure and consequently leading to death if transplant is not done, said Doctor Sulaiman Lakoh,Infectious Disease Physician at Connaught Hospital.
Doctor Sulaiman Lakoh was explaining to Concord Times during an exclusive interview about the alarming number of death and sicknesses related to liver infections in the country.
He confirmed that nearly every 1 in 10 Sierra Leoneans are infected with hepatitis B, adding that “No study has been done to establish link between the infection and covid-19, but there could possibly be. People who are at risk of developing the condition include sex workers, drug addicts, homosexuals, people receiving dialysis and more. No study has been carried to determine the prevalence of the disease among the aforementioned groups.
Doctor Lakoh cited the various types of hepatitis which includes Hepatitis A, B,C,D, E and G, noting that the most infectious among them is B and C, and the most common in the country is Hepatitis B.
He maintained that there is currently no cure for the condition and that 72% of people with Hepatitis B do not require any treatment, but just need constant follow-up.
He said the most common way through which the disease can be transmitted is from mother to child (during childbirth), oral sex, sharing of sharps, barbing shops and more.
The Infectious Disease Physician noted that Hepatitis B does not spread by kissing, exchange of utensils, body fluid and that “constant use of condom, vaccination, and faithfulness are very key in preventing the diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO),children under five years old are 80 to 90 percent likely to develop chronic HBV if exposed, 30 to 50 percent before age 5 and fewer than 5 percent in adults.
“There is no cure for the disease, which often manifests
without symptoms at initial infection. However, those suffering from it can suppress the virus through life-long treatment.”
However, the HBV vaccine is 98 to 100 percent effective and has been shown to significantly decrease a country’s HBV prevalence when systematically administered.