Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Ali Pate, has disclosed that a staggering 91 million people in Africa are living with chronic hepatitis.
According to him, among them, 82 million have Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), while nine million are affected by Chronic Hepatitis C (CHC) infection.
Pate made the disclosure during the African Hepatitis Summit, Abuja, themed, ‘Putting Africa on track towards viral hepatitis elimination.’
Represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Kachollom Daju, Pate expressed concern that only a small percentage of those diagnosed with CHB and CHC received treatment in 2020.
“This approach fortifies our ongoing and sustained commitment towards achieving universal health coverage by 2023. Currently, Africa battles with a substantial hepatitis burden, with 82 million and 9 million people living with Chronic Hepatitis B and Chronic Hepatitis C infections respectively.
“These staggering figures are further exacerbated by the fact that only 0.1 per cent of 2 per cent diagnosed with CHB and 0 per cent of 5 per cent diagnosed with CHC received treatment in the year 2020. These figures sharply contrast with the notable progress made globally, with 10 per cent of 296 million people diagnosed with CHB and 25 per cent of 58 million diagnosed with CHC receiving treatment, respectively.
“Indeed, it is high time Africa nations intensify efforts to increase immunization coverage .With the availability of affordable Directly Acting Anti-viral (DAAs) drugs for curing HCV and Tenofovir for treating HBV, African countries are strategically poised to overcome barriers to treatment however the high cost of treatment which is often paid out-of-pocket continues to create a barrier to assess. It is high time African Nations collaborate to advocate for local production. We must also explore that health insurance are optimized,” he said.
He stated that Nigeria is unwavering in its commitment to control hepatitis toward elimination.
This commitment, he says, is evident through ongoing efforts to strengthen the primary healthcare system, raise public awareness, include hepatitis in the minimum package for national health insurance, build the capacity of healthcare providers, and integrate hepatitis management into HIV programs.