By Ndidi Chukwu
Approximately 20 million of the 170 million populations in Nigeria are currently infected with Hepatitis B and C virus new findings indicate. This population according to Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike a Community Health Physician working with the Federal Ministry of Health are at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the liver in the future.
In a one-day stakeholder’s advocacy workshop on viral hepatitis awareness organised by Yakubu Gowon Foundation in Abuja, Dr. Anyaike who is the Head Prevention Department of Public Health at the Federal ministry of Health said 20 million Nigerians infected with hepatitis B or C indicates that one in every 12 Nigerian is infected. Anyaike said out of the 20 million infected, 25 percent could develop chronic liver disease and between 500,000 to 700,000 of the cases result to deaths.
“Viral Hepatitis is a very big public health issue in Nigeria. We have 20 million Nigerians living with Hepatitis B or C and they are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. Most importantly these ones are living in the communities and they are not aware of it and in the same process, they are transferring the infection to other people in the communities. Results of survey conducted in the counttry, on spread of viral hepatitis in Nigeria indicates that Kano State has the highest number of people infected with the b variant of the Virus while Kwara state has the highest number of people infected with the C variant of the virus.
Dr Anyaike added that the spread is due to lack of public awareness on Viral Hepatitis. He said “what we should do is to create awareness and to sensitise people on the burden of viral Hepatitis in Nigeria” he called on all strata of government to commit funds to fight viral Hepatitis in Nigeria.
Rtd General Yakubu Gowon in his remark said Nigeria should consider viral hepatitis a national emergency, “seeing that the prevalence rate of this disease is about double the national HIV prevalence rate. The Nation and the world should take note” he warned.