Kenya to launch guidelines on management of Hepatitis disease

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-29 00:52:23|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NAIROBI, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Kenya will in August launch the first national guideline in the management of Hepatitis disease, a government official has revealed.

"We are in the final stages and will launch the guidelines next month to help save people from succumbing to the disease," Mary Mugambi, the Programs Officer at the National AIDS and STIs Control Program (NASCOP) said at the celebrations marking World Hepatitis day in Nairobi.

Mugambi noted that once the guideline is launched, it will help reduce harm due to the drug use against the disease that is regarded as a silent killer.

She said that more than 300,000 people, mainly those who inject drugs, are living with Hepatitis C, while majority of Kenyans do not know their status.

"Hepatitis virus is mainly found in places where sanitation is poor like the refugee camps, slums and streets," she said.

Julius Tuwei, the head of Hepatitis Laboratory at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) said that the disease is an inflammation of the liver that is caused by infections with viruses or by non-viral causes such as excessive alcohol intake and some toxic chemicals.

"Hepatitis can be characterized by jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), fever, belly pain, and fatigue. However, in many cases, there are no signs of the virus before months or years pass, when the virus has already spread. When not managed, hepatitis can lead to severe liver disease and death," he added.

Tuwei said that Hepatitis affects people from all walks of life regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Hepatitis B and C are responsible for 96 percent of the deaths caused by viral hepatitis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.3 million people die due to viral hepatitis in 2015 alone. Kenya is classified by WHO as being a Hepatitis B virus endemic region where the disease is very common.

"All that are susceptible should go for viral Hepatitis blood test and follow-up with their nearest health care provider," Mugambi noted.

She called for awareness creation on hepatitis to help end hepatitis adding that ending it depends on the individual knowledge about it.

Mugambi observed that ending hepatitis is feasible but requires affordable and accessible diagnostics, treatment and prevention services.

"The price of the drug is so high that only a few people could afford them adding that a dose per week goes for 400 U.S. dollars," she added.

Mugambi blamed ignorance of the disease to the cost of tests that they claim is expensive and nearly inaccessible to many people.