A Chief Medical Officer at Ifako Ijaiye General Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Bamidele Kehinde, has warned that late or not diagnosing hepatitis could cause serious health complications, including damages to the liver.]
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can cause a range of health problems and can be fatal.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, the expert in hepatitis treatment noted that many people are not going for hepatitis treatment because they are asymptomatic and therefore do not see any hospital for examination.
“The risk in late diagnosis or not diagnosing hepatitis is that it could lead to the infection of many more people because hepatitis is highly infectious.
“In addition, it could lead to other health complications like liver cirrhosis and especially, primary liver cell carcinoma, which is a terminal disease that leads to death eventually,” he said.
While condemning the lack of adequate testing facilities in the country, Dr. Kehinde says the “risk of contracting hepatitis B infection in Nigeria is substantial, not only due to low vaccination rates in the country but because the majority of the population are exposed to the infection.
“Lack of awareness of the disease of the disease among the vast majority of the populace and perinatal transmission from an infected mother to her baby are among the issues to be addressed.”
Nigeria, he said, should expand diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis generally and also expand vaccination for hepatitis B which is more prevalent in the country.
The physician called for enlightenment campaigns on the condition, noting that creating better awareness of its mode of transmission and preventive measures would help reduce the spread of the disease.
He also urged the government to provide financial support towards hepatitis vaccination for Nigerians.
Vaccination, he said can help reduce hepatitis deaths in the country.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are five main strains of the hepatitis virus, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. While they all cause liver disease, they differ in important ways including modes of transmission, the severity of the illness, geographical distribution and prevention methods.
In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis, cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths.
The WHO latest data estimated that about 325 million people worldwide live with hepatitis B and/or C, and for most, testing and treatment remains beyond reach.
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