28th of July, every year is World Hepatitis Day. On behalf of Mr President-Alh Toyosi Y. Raheem, the National Executive Officers(NEOs) and the entire members of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria(AMLSN), I write to join the rest of the world in commemorating the Hepatitis Day this year tagged: Prevent Hepatitis. Act Now!
It is a day set aside by World Health Organization (WHO) to provide the opportunity of reviewing the impact of the deadly disease especially here in Nigeria. It also affords us the opportunity to review the strategies for its elimination thus increasing advocacy on the disease and remind the general public on the socioeconomic importance of the disease.
AMLSN as a critical stakeholder feels pained that worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C. More worrisome is that every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis and yet all of these deaths could be prevented. Meanwhile, with better awareness and understanding of how we can prevent hepatitis we can eliminate this disease and save 4,000 lives a day. It is on this premise that AMLSN deemed it necessary to address Nigerians on this commemorative day for hepatitis.
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver cells which can be as a result of microbial infection, chemical toxicity or malignancies. Hepatitis caused by viral agents can be transmitted through contaminated water, food or fruits, faeces and blood or blood products.
Hepatitis is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally.
Interestingly, hepatitis whatever the cause, is preventable, treatable and manageable. The general public is hereby called upon to ensure proper personal and community hygiene. Hands should be properly washed and proper treatment of vegetables and fruits before consumption are strongly advocated. Sharps and other means of contracting the disease should be properly handled and disposed off. Nigerians are urged to go for regular blood tests for viral hepatitis. Those found to be negative are encouraged to go for immediate vaccination while those found positive are also urged to seek medical intervention from adequately qualified health professionals. Lastly, the general public is advised to insist on the use of properly screened blood and blood products for transfusion.
We also appeal to Governments at all levels to step up efforts on provision of clean and portable water to the populace. Governments must also ensure availability of free hepatitis testing and treatment in all health facilities in Nigeria. Health workers must also appropriately and regularly update their diagnostic and treatment skills so as to meet the comprehensive health needs of the citizenry.
Finally, AMLSN wishes to reassure Nigerians that Medical Laboratory Scientists in Nigeria are well positioned to provide accurate diagnosis of viral and other health challenges in Nigeria as well as assuring Nigerians on their capacity to ensure safe and quality blood and blood products for transfusion purposes.
Hepatitis may be deadly but it is preventable and treatable. No doubt, we can all win the war against hepatitis.
Adeyeye Adetunji Tam
National PRO, AMLSN