Lagos, Olpharm mark World Hepatitis Day, screen citizens
In commemoration of the World Hepatitis Day (WHD), the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS) is conducting free hepatitis screening for Lagosians.
The three-day screening, counselling sessions, referrals of positive cases and blood donation ends today at the LSBTS Voluntary Blood Donation Centre, General Hospital, Lagos.
WHD is marked on July 28 every year to create more awareness on hepatitis and ways to reduce the burden. WHD 2020 is tagged Hepatitis-free future, with the theme: ‘Find the Missing Millions.’ On Tuesday, the Minister of Health, Prof. Osagie Ehanire, said about 20 million Nigerians are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and C.
The Executive Secretary, Dr Bodunrin Osikomaiya, a consultant hematologist and blood transfusion specialist, emphasised the need to know one’s status by being tested and living a healthy non-risk lifestyle.
She explained that all units of blood donated in Lagos State registered blood banks are tested for transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs), which includes Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses using the fourth generation ELISA technology.
“This is in accordance with our mandate to provide safe blood to all who require it. WHD is commemorated yearly to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes a range of health problems, including liver cancer.
“There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. However, Hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.4 million lives lost each year. The average incubation period of the virus is 90 days from the time of exposure to onset of symptoms. Viral hepatitis continues to claim thousands of lives everyday despite the COVID pandemic,” she said.
Also, WHD was marked on Tuesday at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, in conjunction with Olpharm Nigeria Limited. Dr Charles Onyekwere of LASUTH listed symptoms of Hepatitis B to include fatigue, nausea, poor appetite, mild fever, jaundice, abdominal pains, lever enlargement, among others.
According to the Managing Director, Olpharm Nigeria, Johnson Olusetire, the partnership with LASUTH to kick out the disease informed the observance of WHD every July 28.
“We assist to help the victims of the disease by partnering with a manufacturer in India to get the hepatitis vaccine so that victims can get it at a subsidized rate because the treatment is costly. We also partner with 21 NGOs that belong to the world hepatitis alliance who get the vaccine at highly subsidized rate from us while we offer free test,” he added.