Medical practitioners under their umbrella organization, the Great Lakes Medical Consortium and Research Centre (GLAMERC), Tuesday decried the level of funding for awareness and research on Hepatitis.
During the occasion to mark the annual World Hepatitis Day that falls on May19, Dr. Emmanuel Musebeyezu, a member of the organization, noted that global mortality statistics for Hepatitis show that 47 percent of people die of chronic Hepatitis B while 23 percent die of chronic Hepatitis C and alcohol is responsible for 30 percent.“
“As medical professionals we see people die of Hepatitis daily and knowing that it is preventable, our major aim of organizing this occasion is to sensitise the public on the need to avoid it through acquiring Hepatitis B vaccination.”
“Our children are safe because this vaccine is among those that are administered through the national immunisation programme, however, adults too must ensure that they are diagnosed because if left untreated the virus can lead to advanced liver scarring also known as cirrhosis and other complications like liver cancer and failure,” Mesebeyezu explained.
Mesebeyezu also noted that Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV and ten times more infectious than Hepatitis C.
He added that new infections continue to occur through unsafe injections, exposed health workers, sexual contacts and blood transfusion among others.
GLAMERC Chairman, Dr. Stephen Musiime said, the three-dose vaccine is available at most hospitals in the country and costs about Rwf 140,000.
World Hepatitis Day aims to raise global awareness of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Approximately 500 million people worldwide have either hepatitis B or hepatitis C. This represents 1 in 12 people, and was the basis for the 2008 World Hepatitis Day theme “Am I Number 12?” campaign. Every year 1.5 million people die from either Hepatitis B or C.
World Hepatitis Day is led by the World Hepatitis Alliance, which represents 200 patients groups and organizations including The Hepatitis C Trust, the European Liver Patient Association and the Chinese Foundation for Hepatitis Prevention & Control.
The blood-borne disease can be transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing toothbrushes or procedures like tattoos and piercing. Even unsterilized salon equipment for manicures and pedicures can spread the disease.
Health experts encourage getting tested for Hepatitis, especially people who engage in risky behaviour.