By: Wisdom Acka & Prudence Okonna
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has assured of its commitment to work towards the elimination of the Hepatitis viral disease by 2030 in and around the 8,000 square kilometers of the Federal Capital Territory.
The FCT Minister of State, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu gave the assurance, while flagging-off activities to mark the 2022 World Hepatitis Day in Abuja on Thursday.
She stated that the FCTA was ready and willing to partner with the World Health Organization and other critical stakeholders to achieve the elimination of hepatitis B, C and D by 2030.
To achieve this, she said that the Administration would remain resolute “working with other critical stakeholders and development partners.
Her words:”We will work assiduously to reduce new infections of hepatitis B and C by 90%, reduce hepatitis related deaths from liver cirrhosis and cancer by 65%, ensure that at least 90% of people with hepatitis B and C viruses are diagnosed; and at least 80% of those eligible receive appropriate treatment.”
The Minister stressed the need to accelerate the fight against the viral hepatitis, and emphasized the importance of testing as well as treatment for the real people who need it, in order to preserve its productive demography.
Represented at the event by the Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Isah Yahaya Vatsa, the Minister noted: “With the negative impact of the disease resulting to deaths in every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness, it is obvious that we have no other option but immediately act on viral hepatitis”.
She decried a situation where communities in the FCT particularly those in the hard-to-reach areas, lack access to hepatitis diagnostics, treatment and preventive interventions.
“Unfortunately, individuals who have incidental screening during blood donation or when having laboratory evaluations for other health conditions, even when they realise often lack the knowledge of how to manage the situation and most of them are left in the hands of quacks or pay huge sums at some random health facilities to have suboptimal care,” she lamented.
According to her: “As you may be aware, the Public Health Department, Health and Human Services Secretariat of the FCTA with partners, had in the past, evaluated health workers in District Hospitals and other Departments, and Agencies. The findings were appalling as much over 50% of personnel were positive and many others needed hepatitis B vaccinations”.
“This goes to show that there is uncoordinated Hepatitis B screening taking place in various communities of the FCT with clients not adequately counselled and managed hence most of them resort to self-help,” he added.
The Minister, therefore, advised healthcare providers to carry out good quality community screening exercise and link clients to adequate management system in the six Area Councils of the FCT, while seizing the opportunity provided by the World Hepatitis Day to begin to take deliberate actions.
She charged the Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat, to direct the Department of Public Health and the FCT Primary Health Care Board as well as the six Area Councils Health Authorities, to assume leadership roles and coordinate all the stakeholders towards the achievement of the targets.
In his keynote address, the Director of Public Health, Dr Abubakar Sadiq, harp on the need to know ones statues as the long term consequences of Hepatitis is worse than most viral disease.
He assured that the FCTA will increase access to healthcare services and routine vaccinations especially for children between ages zero to three.
The World Hepatitis Day is an international event celebrated every July 28, with the aim of creating more awareness on its prevention and control.
Some of the activities lined up for the commemoration of this year’s Hepatitis Day include symposium, media engagements, hepatitis B and C screening at health facilities and outreach posts across the six Area Councils.