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Experts advise soldiers on hepatitis prevention, regular check up



The Nigerian Army has been charged to know their hepatitis status and engage in regular medical check up to prevent the disease.

The call was made during a free hepatitis screening and medication on the officers, conducted by the Medicheck Health Screening Suite, at the 9 Brigade Nigerian Army Cantonment, Ikeja, Lagos, to commemorate the World Hepatitis Day on July 28.

According to the 2015 Global Health Estimates, 97 per cent of all mortality in the Western Pacific results from chronic hepatitis B and C related cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). An estimated 284 million people are living with the virus, with about 887, 000 deaths recorded annually.

The Medical Director, Medicheck, Dr. Adewale Owolabi, who addressed the officers said, with the theme: “Eliminate Hepatitis” and a focus of the World Health Organisation (WHO) towards reducing and eliminating the disease in countries around the world, there was need for urgent private participation in creating awareness on the killer disease in every part of Nigeria.

He said, majority of people living in the country are unaware of the disease, which kills faster than the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), with a vast number of deaths recorded compared to the deaths caused by tuberculosis.

Owolabi who identified the disease as contagious, stressed that the Nigerian soldiers, who are responsible for protecting the lives of citizens, should also be aware of the disease, adding that a regular medical check up to know their hepatitis status would serve as a preventive measures against the disease.

“Our focus as an organization is keeping people’s health in check before diseases commence. Hepatitis is a killer disease that can be prevented. We must draw attention to this disease, which is common in Nigeria, being among the 11 counties with about 50 per cent of the burden of the disease. It can be contacted through body fluid/ blood, similar to HIV; it is also sexually transmitted through sharp instrument, clippers among others. Most times if we can deal and control hepatitis, we can save lives,” he said. Owolabi noted that with statistics ranging from 10-15 per cent of people tested, 10 -13 out of the 100 tested are positive. The Medical Director, who said the disease has a vaccine, urged Nigerians to immunize themselves against the disease if tested positive and go for regular check up if found negative to treat the disease early.

The Chief of Staff and second in command, 9 Brigade Nigerian Army Cantonment, Ikeja, Col. Ayo Ajose, commended the medical team for screening and giving medication to the officers, calling on the Nigerian Army to guard themselves against the disease, which is identified as silent and fast killer disease, as it has become an issue of public concern.

“This occasion is an opportunity for us to be aware of the disease and take preventive measures. If traced in anyone, seek medical attention as there is a vaccine for its cure,” he added.

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