World Hepatitis Day: Ooni to lead campaign
● As government renews commitment to defeat scourge
ABUJA – The Federal Government has named Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) Royal Ambassador against hepatitis. In that capacity, the revered monarch is expected to lead Nigeria’s response against the killer disease.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, revealed this at a briefing to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day in Abuja, Tuesday.
Hepatitis, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
WHO says there are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer, the organization said.
Speaking on the theme for this year global commemoration of the disease, “Eliminate Hepatitis,” Adewole said the Ooni agrees it must be truly eliminated completely because of its deadly effects on humanity. The minister said the United Nations chose every 28th July as the day to commemorate the disease worldwide, and that Nigeria would commemorate the disease at the Ooni’s Palace in Ile-Ife, Osun State that day.
He said the acceptance of the monarch to be named Ambassador against hepatitis represents a new dimension to renewed partnership to eliminate the disease, which kills more people than HIV/AIDS and other related diseases, adding that the government had not attached the importance the disease deserves to it.
“Therefore, it has become the silent killer. But, what is particularly important is that the liver is the engine room of the body. When the engine room of the factory is faulty, the entire system will not be able to work. So, the liver is very important. And, hepatitis affects the liver.
“As mentioned by the WHO rep, three of them, or let me say two are particularly dangerous, that is hepatitis B and C. They not only cause problem for the liver, they lead to chronic liver problem where people develop abdominal swelling.
“In some, it results in liver cancer. This is why it is important for us to tackle hepatitis with seriousness. But, the good thing about hepatitis is that it is also preventive. That is why we need to create awareness among our people. We need to let them know. Many of them acquire it through fecal-oral transmission, particularly A and E, which we have in some parts of Borno State.
“It is transmitted through contaminated water. So, we can stay away from hepatitis by disposing faeces from the body carefully, by drinking clean and safe water, and by avoiding contact with contaminated blood, body fluid. With that, we can stay away from B and C, which can also be transmitted to the new born.
“But, the beauty is that we now have vaccine against B, and it is available during immunization, it is free. It is part of the vaccines for the young ones. It is available, and Nigerians should take interest in getting their children routinely immunized.
“To those of us who are adults, we might not need the vaccine. But, we need to get ourselves tested. Each one of us should know our status. If you are positive, we want to know among other things whether you have the antibodies and antigens.
Secondly, the virus multiplies in our system. If it is multiplying in our system, we want to know how quickly it is multiplying. If it is multiplying, we need to treat,” he said.
He furthered that with collaboration of government and non-governmental organizations and all people living in the country, the disease would be defeated.