From, Tina Ezin, Calabar
Cross River state government through the Ministry of Health has disclosed that in every 30 seconds, someone dies of hepatitis in Nigeria.
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday in Calabar on the weeklong hepatitis vaccination exercise, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu said the state can no longer wait to eliminate hepatitis as it has renewed it’s commitment to community testing, vaccination and viral information dissemination.
Giving statistics, the Commissioner said “the prevalence of Hepatitis B and C are 8.8 percent and 1.1 percent respectively in Cross River and in every 30 seconds someone dies of hepatitis in Nigeria. Over 16.2 million people in Nigeria are living with Hepatitis B while 2.2 million are living with Hepatitis C viruses.”
“Our intention is to completely eliminate the hepatitis viruses through vaccinations. So, we are conducting free screening across the Calabar metropolis and in Akamkpa. While the vaccination of the rural people is free, those in the state capital pay a token of one thousand naira for the vaccines.
“I am satisfied with the turnout of people for the screening and vaccination especially around major motor parks and markets in Calabar. We are sure that we will reach these numbers of persons with the vaccines.” Edu added.
She explained that the vaccines are to be given in three phases, that all those taking the first dose would be contacted for the second and third doses in an interval of one month.
On her part, the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (CRSPHCDA), Dr Janet Ekpenyong said the high rate of the infection was because of Covid-19 pandemic which had caused limited access to other ailments.
Ekpenyong said the disease could be prevented if all hands be on deck to drive the sensitization into villages and cities and the maintenance of adequate safety guidelines such as a end to the indescriminate rate of unprotected sex, use and sharing of sharp objects, body contact with infected persons, Kissing amongst others.