As the world commemorates the 2022 World Hepatitis Day (WHD), a General Practitioner, Dr Towobola Makinde, has advised Nigerians to know their status as this can help proper management of the disease.
She gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of an event to commemorate the day with free testing and counselling at Garki Hospital, Abuja, on Thursday.
NAN reports that World Hepatitis Day is annually observed on July 28 to raise global awareness of hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The theme for the 2022 edition is “Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to You” with sub-theme “I Can’t Wait.”
Makinde said Hepatitis B and C viruses affect the liver and are actually more common than most people are aware of.
According to her, most people go about, walk around, without even knowing that they have it.
She said that the disease referred to as “silent killer”, remained a public health threat, causing chronic infections and death.
She added that “the liver is unique in the sense that if it is affected by anything or is injured by anything, it repairs itself, but when you have over 70 per cent to 75 per cent of it being affected, usually, nothing can be done about it.
“Hepatitis is a viral infection and viruses have no cure. However, symptoms can be treated and managed as they come.
“One of the ways by which one can get the hepatitis virus is through sexual contact or basically, exchange of body fluids,” she said.
Makinde said that the disease could also be spread through unsafe injections and blood transfusions, sharing personalised items such as razor blade and tooth brush and from mother to baby.
She said symptoms of the disease include yellow eyes, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, dark colour urine and diarrhea.
She explained that some people who already had the disease might not show any symptoms until much later when it might have reached advanced stage.
“So, we are encouraging everyone to know his/her status, and if you are negative, get vaccinated.”
She explained that there are hepatitis immunistaion for children which can be taken at birth, while for adults, the vaccination can be taken as stipulated by the National Immunisation Programme, with a booster dose after 10 years.
For prevention of hepatitis C, she said that could be done by ensuring the use of only sterilised needles or syringes and to not reuse either of them, and to accept blood donations from tested sources only.
Also, to practice safe sex and not share personalised objects such as toothbrush and razor blade.
On the general wellbeing of the liver, she said that a lot of good and nutritious foods that would benefit the liver should be eaten.
“Let us reduce the amount of caffeine and fizzy drinks that we take, you cannot take everything in excess.
“Alcohol is actually a very big and dangerous drink to the liver so avoid it completely if you can or reduce it to the barest minimum and eat lots of fruits,” she said.
Meanwhile, World Health Organisation (WHO) says the “silent killer” is responsible for the yearly deaths of about 125,000 people in Africa in spite of availability of treatment.
It also said that more than 90 million people are living with hepatitis in Africa, accounting for 26 per cent of the global total.(NAN)