Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Fidson clamours for preventive action against hepatitis

Concerned about the prevalence of Hepatitis and the alarming rate of Hepatitis infection in the country, Fidson Healthcare Plc, has called on all Nigerians to embark on nationwide preventive actions against the menace of Hepatitis virus in the country, in commemoration of the World Hepatitis Day on July 28. 

A statement signed by Sylvester Iriogbe, Assistant Manager, Corporate Communication and Corporate Services on Wednesday, said that the pharmaceutical company which among the leaders in the industry, advised Nigerians to prevent viral hepatitis infection by getting tested, vaccinated and seeking adequate treatment for the string of hepatitis viruses, known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, which affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver diseases. 

The company made this call, following various media reports on statistics credited to the Federal Ministry of Health, which states that over 20 million Nigerians are presently infected with the Hepatitis virus. This figure represents a substantial percentage of the 400 million people reportedly living with hepatitis B and C worldwide, according to WHO reports, which also state that 1.4 million people die due to these infections every year. 

Fidson’s Marketing Manager, Mr. Friday Enaholo, said this report is very alarming, as it shows that on the average, one out of every twelve Nigerians is infected with the Hepatitis Virus. “This data is worrisome and calls for national preventive actions that should involve every Nigerian. Every stakeholder within the health sector and member of the public has a role to play, either in the area of policy formulation, compliance and even as basic as living a healthy and hygienic lifestyle”, he stated. Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by one of the five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. They are transmitted through different routes: Hepatitis A and E through contaminated food and water; Hepatitis B – through unsafe blood and other bodily fluids; Hepatitis C – mostly through infectious blood; and Hepatitis D – serving as an additional infection in the presence of Hepatitis B. These viruses all cause acute hepatitis which is characterized by fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and jaundice. 

Most persons fully recover, but a small proportion of persons can die from acute hepatitis. In addition, hepatitis B and C infections can become chronic leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Mr. Enaholo further said that a bigger concern is the fact that these diseases are preventable, but most people, especially those living in rural or semi-urban areas of developing countries don’t even know how to prevent them. “This is why as a company, we are actively participating in this global campaign by enlightening Nigerians, through all possible communication channels, on how they can prevent the spread of Hepatitis”. 

He therefore advised Nigerians to make deliberate and preventive efforts by steering clear of unsafe blood, unsafe injections, and sharing of drug-injection equipment that can all result in hepatitis infection. He also maintained that safe and effective vaccine can protect from hepatitis B infection for life. World Hepatitis Day is celebrated every year on July 28 by WHO and World Hepatitis Alliance. 

The Global Hepatitis Programme was established in 2011 following a World Health Assembly resolution. The theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is “Prevent Hepatitis. Act Now”. Fidson’s support for the WHA and WHO campaign against hepatitis is another demonstration of the company’s concern for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians and its commitment to adding value to the lives of Nigerians, in line with its corporate slogan, ‘we value life.’


This story was published in Newswatch Times on August 1, 2015.

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