By Our Reporter
Nasarawa State Government has announced a five-year Hepatitis C elimination plan, in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination goal of 2023, aimed at screening 2.4 million persons, as well as providing treatment for over 124, 000 others.
Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Governor of the state, disclosed this while inaugurating a Technical Working Group (TWG) to execute the plan, which held at the Government House, on Thursday.
The Governor further disclosed that, and as a demonstration of the commitment of his administration to fight the viral disease, the state government has committed N40m as seed fund to combat the disease.
While commenting the Clinton Health Access Initiative, (CHIA) development partners for the programme, for collaborating with the state government, Engineer Sule said the intervention has become necessary considering that viral hepatitis, among other communicable diseases, contributes greatly to the high mortality rates with estimated 1.3m deaths yearly across the globe.
Maintaining further that health is indeed wealth, the Governor underscored the determination of his administration to save lives and help people of the state live healthy lifestyles, stressing that the present administration is committed on building on the gains of the immediate past administration by working closely with other development partners, such as CHIA, in order to domesticate the national treatment guidelines and integrated innovative diagnostic technologies for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
“A study conducted in Nasarawa State, showed a sero-prevalence rate of 13.2 percent for Hepatitis C Virus, a figure significantly higher than the country’s average. This calls for great concern and immediate attention,” the Governor stated.
He urged members of the TWG to live aboard board in the fight against the disease, calling on development partners and other stakeholders in the health sector, both local and international to work in synergy with the TWG, in the collective determination to reduce the scourge of hepatitis C viral infection in the state.
Earlier, Deputy Country Director, CHIA, Mrs. Folu Lufadeju, commended the state government for empowering its citizens by reinforcing investment in the healthcare by addressing the issues of public health.
According to the country director, Hepatitis C is a growing public health burden, with over 325m persons are living with the disease, with the epidemic a growing concern.
She pointed out that while deaths due to HIV Aids is decreasing, deaths throw hepatitis C is increasing.
Fortunately, she added, there is now effective and affordable tools for diagnosing and treatment of patients with hepatitis C that allows for simplification of care and decentralization of services, allowing for treatment of complicated cases of the disease.
In an opening remarks, Pharmacist Ahmed Baba Yahaya, State Commissioner of Health, who doubles as the chairman of the TWG, restated that Hepatitis C has been a great health burden across the world.
Yahaya disclosed that 9 per cent of deaths globally is caused by the disease, with Nigeria contributing almost 8.1 per cent of hepatitis B and 1.1 per cent of hepatitis C, with Nasarawa State having 13.2 prevalence rate, the highest in the country.