REPORT OF THE 2021 WORLD HEPATITIS DAY

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PROJECT: REPORT OF THE 2021 WORD HEPATITIS DAY CELEBRATION, ORGANIZED BY THE SOCIETY FOR GASTROENTEROLOGY AND HEPATOLOGY IN NIGERIA (SOGHIN), CROSS RIVER STATE CHAPTER.

 

Date: 28th day of July 2021

 

Introduction

The World Health Organization (WHO) set aside 28th day of July to raise awareness on viral hepatitis in recognition of Dr Baruch Samuel Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus. The aim is to sensitize members of the public as well as draw the attention of government/stakeholders to the growing burden and rampage of viral hepatitis. The prevalence of hepatitis B and C viral infection is high in Nigeria, Cross River state inclusive with the attendant morbidity and mortality. The most recent epidemiological data showed that hepatitis B is still hyper-endemic in Nigeria with a prevalence of 8.1% while hepatitis C virus prevalence is 1.1%. The WHO posits that Africans are at a higher risk of dying of viral hepatitis than dying of AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis with 7 out 10 deaths from hepatitis B occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.  The theme for this year is ‘Hepatitis can’t wait’ which seeks to sensitize the public on the need to stem the scourge of viral hepatitis in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic and to draw the attention of government and relevant stakeholders on the need to take decisive actions and implement sustainable health policies to eliminate the infection by 2030.

Publicity

The week-long activities started on the 28th July 2021 with a media campaign at the breakfast morning show at Cross River State Broadcasting (CRBC) television. The live program aimed to enlighten viewers on the risk factors of viral hepatitis, mode of transmission, complications, treatment as well as preventive strategies. Thereafter, we embarked upon several phone-in radio shows on CRBC radio, Hit FM , FAD FM and Sparkling FM  ( from the 2-9th August 2021) to further create awareness on viral hepatitis. Through the support of Phillips pharmaceuticals and the Director General Cross River State Signage and Advertisement Agency (CRISSA) a 10ft by 20ft billboard with ‘’catchy’’ information about viral hepatitis was mounted along a busy road (Marian road) in Calabar metropolis further boosting our media campaign.

Training of Health Workers

On the 9th of August 2021, our team in Collaboration with the Primary Healthcare Development Agency (PHCDA) and the CRS Ministry of Health embarked upon a one day training of health workers in Cross River State. A total of forty-five (45) health workers comprising of Doctors, Nurses, Laboratory scientists and Community health extension workers from the 18 Local Government Areas in the state were trained.     The training content included; knowledge of viral hepatitis, identification of risk factors for viral hepatitis, principles of management, complications and prevention of viral hepatitis. Resource materials and educative pamphlets were distributed to all participants. They also partook in a pre and post-test to assess their knowledge on viral hepatitis. During the opening ceremony the Director General of the PHCDA (Dr Janet Ekpenyong) described the training as being the first of its kind and subsequently nominated Hepatitis Focal Persons from each of the 18 LGAs. Other distinguished guests were the Commissioner for Health ably represented by Dr Iwara Iwara the Director Public Health, the Chairman Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria-CRS and our amiable Chairman of SOGHIN-CRS Prof Rowland Ndoma-Egba.

Members of SOGHIN with PHC workers and the DG Cross River State Primary health Development Agency.

Free Hepatitis B and C Screening, Vaccination and Consultation.

On Tuesday, the 10th of August, 2021 an expanded team of volunteers comprising members of SOGHIN CRS Chapter, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) CRS, Cross River State Medical Students Association, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Cross River State Ministry of Health and the staff of the Primary Health Care Development Agency embarked on a massive (one-day) hepatitis awareness campaign at Odukpani Qua Primary Health Centre, in Odukpani LGA. The activities during the programme included; enlightenment/awareness campaign on viral hepatitis. Free hepatitis screening, free vaccination of those who tested negative to hepatitis B virus, free consultation and free abdominal ultrasound scan for those with clinical indications.

A total of one hundred and fifty-five (155) persons were screened for hepatitis B and C, four (4) tested positive to hepatitis B virus, all tested negative to hepatitis C virus. A total number of one hundred and forty (140) participants were given their first dose of HBV vaccine (with the staff of the PHCDA to follow up the administration of the remaining two doses). In addition, a liver ultrasound scan was carried out in 12 selected individuals. Free medical consultations and dispensing of essential drugs such as antimalarials, haematinics, analgesics, anti-helminthics, and antibiotics amongst others were carried out. The staff of HIT FM were also screened, and a total of 19 were tested; one (1) tested positive for hepatitis B virus and none for hepatitis C virus. All positive cases were duly counselled and referred to the Hepatitis Care centre/Registry of the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for appropriate follow-up.

Photos credit: Dr Mbang Kooffreh-Ada

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