The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, says funding hepatitis testing and treatment services as part of universal health coverage is a cost-effective investment.
This was contained in her World Hepatitis Day 2019 message.
She called on Member States to invest in a public health approach towards the elimination of viral hepatitis B and C in Africa.
“Countries should invest in hepatitis B vaccination for all newborns and integrate hepatitis interventions as part of health system strengthening. This includes building on existing laboratory capacities for HIV and TB, embedding hepatitis surveillance in the national health information system, and securing supplies of affordable medicines and diagnostics”. She said.
Dr. Moetti noted that despite the availability of diagnostic tools and effective treatment, less than one in 10 of the 71 million people with hepatitis B or C in Africa have access to testing and more than 200 000 die each year due to complications like end-stage liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
“In June, the World Health
Organization developed the first hepatitis scorecard to track progress across the Region.
WHO also commends Rwanda and Uganda for providing free access to hepatitis testing and treatment in Africa.
She also salute Egypt for the recent proposal to support hepatitis testing and treatment for one million people across 14 African countries.
The message which was read by the WHO Officer in Charge, Dr. Clement Peter’s, called on partners and pharmceutical companies to reduce the cost of hepatitis B and C diagnostics and medicines.
“Together with the research community, we can collectively explore ways to simplify testing and treatment, and promote innovation towards a cure for hepatitis B and a vaccine for hepatitis C.
In addition to governments and partner efforts, civil society and people living with viral hepatitis should continue playing a central role in raising community and political awareness”. She said.
WHO also pledged to continue to support collaboration across Member States.
The WHO theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is “Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis”
The Regional Director added that the theme is a timely reminder that this disease can be eliminated by 2030 with adequate resources and strong political commitment.
On his part, Dr. Rex Mpazanje, urged the government of Nigeria to invest in awareness creation about hepatitis to save lives.
Across Nigeria, non governmental organizations are conducting free testing and treatment of hepatitis to citizens.
The working theme in Nigeria is ” Finding the missing cases.