Dr. Atsu Godwin Seake-Kwaku
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has said it is increasing its activities towards the elimination of viral hepatitis in the country.
According to the GHS it has started the implementation of a project to screen pregnant women for the condition and vaccinate them after delivery to curtail the spread of the viral infection.
This was disclosed at the launch of the 2022 World Hepatitis Day themed, “Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to Communities- Hep Can’t Wait”.
The Day, observed on July 28 annually, highlights the need to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis and to influence real change.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver and is commonly caused by a viral infection.
Director of Public Health, GHS, Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, speaking at the event said hepatitis is a global condition that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working towards elimination by 2030.
He urged Ghanaians to regularly test for hepatitis to know their status for early treatment.
“Hepatitis is about investing. Investment here is not just government but also the private sector and that is why all partners must work together to bring the necessary investment to ensure that Ghana achieved the 2030 goal of eliminating the condition”, he said.
Programme Manager, National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme Dr. Atsu Godwin Seake-Kwaku, GHS, said there was the need to increase interventions to deal with the condition.
He said chronic hepatitis B accounted for 12.3 per cent of the country’s disease burden in 2015 recording 1.5 million new infections per year and a total of 820,000 deaths with 6.6 million people on treatment.
He said in 2019, 3.3 per cent of the disease burden was also recorded for chronic hepatitis C, recording 1.5 million new infections per year, with 299,000 deaths and 9.4 million on treatment.
Dr. Seake-Kwaku said it was, important to increase prevention, testing, access to treatment and chronic care as the cost of medication for treatment was expensive.
Executive Director, Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana Dr. Charles Adjei, representing Civil Society Organizations, stated that a number of activities had been outlined in the coming days to observe the Day.
He said aside the official launching of the World Hepatitis Day, there would be free hepatitis B and C screening and care in Accra, Cape Coast, Ho and Lawra on July 25-27.
A scientific seminar for midwives on 26, a national stakeholder meeting on July 28, free hepatitis B screening in the Northern Region, and free Hepatitis B and C in Upper West Region, all on 28 respectively.
Dr. Adjei said there would also be hepatitis awareness campaigns and testing at Teshie in Accra and on August 2, there would also be hepatitis testing and vaccination in Kumasi and media engagements.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri