July 27, 2020
By Mohamed Sesay
Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS),has on the 24th of July joined the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to commemorate the World Hepatitis Day, which would fall on the 28th July, 2020.
The commemoration themed“Find the missing millions”took place at the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), Wilkinson Road in Freetown.
In his address to the press, Dr. Sulaiman Lakkoh, said viral hepatitis has remained a global public health problem, adding that an estimated 328 million people around the world are living with this infectious disease. He said that in every year, nearly 1.5 million people die as a result of complications of viral hepatitis including liver cancer, which,according to him, Sierra Leone is no exception to the gloomy global picture.
Dr. Lakkoh further stated that there is no national representative data to pin the prevalence of viral hepatitis in the country, adding that data from small studies have showed a high prevalence among various population groups.
He said prevalence of hepatitis B is 1.3%-1.6% among children below 10 years, 8.7% among health workers, 11.3% among pregnant women, 15.2% among blood donors, and 21.7% among people living with HIV and AIDS.
He intimated that there are prevalence of hepatitis C of 2% and 6% in male and female blood donors, and 4.1% amongst people living with HIV.
He continued that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has therefore established a National Hepatitis Task Force charged with the responsibility to advise the ministry on actions to scale up and strengthen the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in the country.
He asserted that the ministry would continue to work with its partners to provide the required leadership on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis.
He added that the Ministry, in collaboration with Partners in Health (PIH), in 2019 and 2020, provided a comprehensive package of screening vaccination and treatment for viral hepatitis B to 200 medical students from COMAHS and 632 healthcare workers from Kono District respectively.
Dr. Lakkoh also informed the press that early this year, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, supported the validation of the first national guidelines on the treatment of viral hepatitis and the training of 50 doctors.
He confirmed that the Ministry, in collaboration with the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners, has recently conducted a survey on viral hepatitis in children and their mothers to inform decisions on the introduction of the hepatitis B birth dose vaccine.
“As a responsible ministry, we recognize viral hepatitis as a public health problem and we are committed to the global and regional elimination goals of viral hepatitis. We, therefore, join other partners around the world to increase awareness of the burden and consequences of viral hepatitis. The ministry will like to call on everyone in Sierra Leone to be aware of hepatitis and raise the awareness to reach all the corners of the country with the right information. Please join us to commemorate this year’s World Hepatitis Day (Tuesday 28th July 2020) with the focus on finding people living with hepatitis who are undiagnosed.’’ He concluded.