World Hepatitis Day, “Find the Missing Millions”
By Ann Wambui
Hepatitis B and C affect more than 325 million people globally and are contributing causes of liver cancer leading to death of 1.34 million annually, according a global hepatitis report by the World Health Organization.
Children not born in health facilities are more prone to contracting Hepatitis virus compared to those born in health institutions. This is because the first dose against Hepatitis is given at birth. The other two are given at either one or two months after birth while the third is administered at 18 months of the child.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver commonly caused by a viral chronic infection that usually shows no symptoms over long periods, although yellowish eyes and skin could be a sign and the way to ensure that achieving its elimination by 2030 is through testing and treating.
Common secondary causes are medications, drugs, toxins and alcohol. Although there is treatment for Hepatitis B among children since 1982, it also depends on the type of Hepatitis a patient is suffering from.
Hepatitis B and C cases have been reported in Kenya according to a study done on 389 Jaundice patients in 0ctober 2017, 6.3% in Nairobi, 9.2% in Kisumu and 5.0% in Mombasa were infected with Hepatitis A. Recommendations were that even adults should be immunized while vaccinating children.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious fluids such as blood, vaginal secretions or semen contacting the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), while Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, often through injection drug usage and sexual contact. HBV is mainly transmitted in the first years of life from mother to child as it has been observed in African regions.
According to data from Kenya Medical Research Institute, 10% of pregnant women have the virus and are likely to pass it to their children during childbirth and this puts the children at a 90% risk of developing liver complications after infection.
“85% of infants worldwide are protected with three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine although the one given after birth is lagging behind in implementation.” WHO Department of Immunizations, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr. Ana Maria Henao Restrepo.
July 28 marks World Hepatitis Day 2018 goes with the theme “Find the Missing Millions” that is kick-starting a three-year global awareness-raising and advocacy campaign to break barriers of diagnosis through putting civil society organizations and affected communities at the very center to finding solutions.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 325 million people living with viral Hepatitis worldwide, upward of 290 million are living with Hepatitis unknowingly. Thus the call to have an increase in screening, diagnosis and linkage care.
The Daily Nation
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