S. Sudan urged to enhance fight against viral hepatitis

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-29 01:12:34|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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JUBA, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Health experts have urged the government of South Sudan to strengthen the fight against viral hepatitis by promoting awareness, testing, treatment and increased investment in public health in order to meet the global agenda of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.

Speaking during an event to mark the World Hepatitis Day on Friday, John Rwegasha, a consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) in South Sudan said the East African nation is among the high endemic areas of hepatitis in sub-Saharan Africa with prevalence rate of 12 percent.

He said the government and partners should scale up surveillance and treatment services to stop the disease from becoming a public health disaster.

"South Sudan is among the top prevalence areas of hepatitis. What is common is hepatitis B. So efforts should be put in place to stop the increase of the disease," Rwegasha said.

Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, Director General for Preventive Health Services at South Sudan's Ministry of Health said hepatitis remains a threat to public health in South Sudan due to lack of guidelines on treating the viral disease.

He called on partners to support the government in developing and implementing a national hepatitis strategy that would help in surveillance, data collection and provide guidelines for treatment.

"Though we didn't do a survey on Hepatitis, it is a threat to public health because the results we are getting from the national blood bank show an estimated 8 percent prevalence of hepatitis B, it is just a tip of the iceberg and we need to conduct evidence based survey. We need to translate these policies into strategy and then implement," he said.

According to the WHO, hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and the 7th leading cause of death globally.

There are five hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.

The agency said types B and C in particular are chronic in hundreds of millions of people and are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids.

The first worldwide hepatitis report released by WHO early this year showed that there were about 325 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and C virus globally- 70 million of them in Africa , adding that the disease caused more than 136,000 deaths in region alone.

It said use of contaminated injection equipment in health-care settings accounts for a large number of hepatitis B and C virus infections worldwide.