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Nduka Ozor's Fundraiser:

Lets Stop Hepatitis in Africa

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Nduka Ozor

THE STORY:

Hepatitis has been described as a ‘silent epidemic’ in Nigeria because most persons do not realize that they are infected and, over decades the disease slowly progress to liver disease and death. Viral hepatitis has cut down many Nigerians in their prime and recent studies have shown that it kills as many people as Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Worst is that awareness level of the virus in Nigeria is less than 10 per cent, thus the devastating dangers of the virus is not known to over 150 million Nigerians including school children. Children and pregnant women who are the most vulnerable do not have sufficient information about the virus nonetheless preventing it. According to the Global Burden of Disease study released last year in the Lancet, viral hepatitis was responsible for almost 1.45 million deaths in 2010, the same as HIV/AIDS and significantly more than tuberculosis or Malaria. In fact it affects over 20 million Nigerians and causes thousands of deaths each year because less than 500,000 of them have access to treatment. However, many countries, including Nigeria, are only now realizing the magnitude of the disease burden but are not devising concrete ways to addressing it. World Health Organisation (WHO); the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria (SOGHIN); the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA); and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), recently raised alarm that these viruses constitute a major global health risk with around 240 million people said to be chronically infected with hepatitis B and about 150 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C. GLOBAL BURDEN The WHO in the first-ever country hepatitis survey, covering 126 countries, released early this year reported that 63 per cent of countries including Nigeria are ill-equipped to tackle the disease. Several other studies have shown that hepatitis virus A, B, C, D and E are responsible for acute and chronic infections and inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. It has been shown that while hepatitis virus A and E are transmitted faeco-orally and largely responsible for acute hepatitis, hepatitis virus B and C which are blood-borne are majorly responsible for chronic hepatitis. This project will therefore create massive awareness and develop the skills of students, teachers and health workers especially health educators to pass accurate information about the virus and how to prevent it as well as vaccination. No fewer than 20 million Nigerians are reported to be living with hepatitis B and C (inflammation of the liver), and over five million are already chronically ill with liver cirrhosis or cancer. The viral infections are said to be 100 times more infectious than Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Conventionally the virus can only be contained by vaccination, mass screening, and treatment. But the government is not forthcoming in performing these life saving measures probably because of the huge cost implication of screening over 100 million people and treating over 25 million that are infected. Creating awareness and developing the skill of health workers therefore becomes the panacea to tame the rising risk of the virus

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