To mark the observation of World Hepatitis Day in Sierra Leone, the National Alliance for Hepatitis in Sierra Leone (NAH-SL) called a press conference and issued out a press release calling on the government attention on key priority areas. The release below has the details-
26th July, 2016
NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR HEPATITIS SIERRA LEONE
ON WORLD HEPATITIS DAY 28 JULY 2016
ON THE THEME ‘KNOW HEPATITIS- ACT NOW’
Viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A,B,C, D and E which affects hundreds of millions of people globally (over ten times the number infected by HIV) causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people annually, mostly from hepatitis B and C.
Globally an estimated 95% of people with hepatitis are unaware they have it and just 1 in 100 are able to access treatment.
In Sierra Leone, Hepatitis B and C are the most prevalent infections. Studies show that the prevalence of hepatitis B among selected groups are up to 10%. One of the greatest challenges in fighting viral hepatitis is access to data on prevalence among the population.
During the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016, member countries adopted a Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis. This strategy calls on member countries to treat 8 million people for hepatitis B or C by 2020. This is to reduce new viral hepatitis infections by 90% and to minimise the number of deaths due to viral hepatitis by 65% by 2030.
As Sierra Leone will join other countries to observe World Hepatitis Day (WHD) 28 July 2016, the National Alliance for Hepatitis Sierra Leone (NAHSL) and its partners call on the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and other relevant stakeholders to act on the following:
· To step up efforts to roll out a National Health Sector Strategy in line with the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis which was adopted during the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016.
· To improve surveillance on viral hepatitis at health facilities across the country
· To make the test for viral hepatitis especially Hepatitis B and C readily accessible and affordable at all health facilities.
· To roll out plans to set national targets and timelines for achieving these targets.
· Increase the awareness and access to hepatitis treatment
Having said the above, NAHSL also calls on the general public to get tested at approved health facilities and laboratories in order to know their status.
Hepatitis B vaccines are available (albeit it not affordable for all) and can offer protection against Hepatitis B infection.
The Alliance has begun series of campaigns to raise awareness among students within the Western Area and screen them for Hepatitis B free of charge.
We provide counselling and refer reactive cases to partner health facilities where they can access treatment.
We intend to continue with radio and TV discussions with the aim of reaching more people, so they can take positive actions for their health.
The Alliance seeks the support of corporate bodies, philanthropists and partnership with other established health NGOs to scale up the campaign nationwide and advocate for a National Policy on Viral Hepatitis.
We call on the media to take active role in providing relevant information on viral hepatitis to the general public and also to advocate for greater attention on the disease.
Let us all join hands to defeat hepatitis. Know Hepatitis- Act Now!
Signed: John Smith
Head of Communications
6, Campbel Street
+232 78 976236 / +232 77 175884/ +232 25 210752