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Over 10% of Ugandans have Hepatitis B

By Vicky Wandawa

Added 27th July 2018 03:45 PM

Statistics from Ministry of Health show that Uganda is one of the countries most affected by Hepatitis B.

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Statistics from Ministry of Health show that Uganda is one of the countries most affected by Hepatitis B.

HEALTH

KAMPALA - The world hepatitis day is commemorated annually on July 28, with the aim of bringing the world together under one single theme in order to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and the impact it has worldwide.

The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2018 is “Eliminate Hepatitis.”

Statistics from Ministry of Health show that Uganda is one of the countries with most affected by Hepatitis B.

About 3.5 million (10% of population) are living with chronic hepatitis B infection. Highest infection rates are in Karamoja (23.9%), northern Uganda (20.7%), West Nile (18.5%) and western region (10.0%).

Dr Ramya Raghavan, Consultant Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefiled warns that globally, hepatitis is killing nearly 1.4 million people annually, and that worldwide, nearly 300 million people live with viral Hepatitis unaware.

“It also causes two in every three liver cancer deaths,” he adds.

The consultant describes hepatitis as an inflammatory condition of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

The disease is caused by a viral infection though there could be other causes of hepatitis. For instance, a condition described as autoimmune Hepatitis results from medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.

He continues that acute Hepatitis B is a newly acquired infection and individuals affected by the infection notice symptoms between one and four months after exposure to the virus.

A small number of people can develop a life-threatening form of acute hepatitis called fulminant hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis B lasts longer than six months and is usually an infection that has to be dealt with in the longer-term.

Transmission

The hepatitis B virus is a blood-borne virus. It is transmitted from person to person via blood or fluids contaminated with blood.

The common symptoms include liver pain, jaundice, dark urine, pale-coloured stools, appetite loss, feeling tired, nausea and itching all over the body.

Diagnosis

Hepatitis B infection is diagnosed based on the above symptoms and blood tests, which indicate abnormal liver function.

Treatment

Acute Hepatitis B usually does not require medical treatment. But if symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea persist, more fluids and electrolytes have to be given to the patient.

Experts say there is no medicine to prevent acute Hepatitis B from becoming chronic.

If the symptoms last for longer period of time and if LFT is abnormal after 3 months, consult a gastroenterologist.

Prevention

• Razor, toothbrush, fingernail clippers, should not be shared if they have blood on them.

• Think about health risks if you are planning to get a tattoo or body piercing. You can become infected if sterilized needles and equipment and disposable gloves are not used.

• Practice safe sex. Latex condoms have to be used when multiple partners are involved to prevent HBV transmission.

• If you inject drugs, don't share needles or other equipment.

Almost 100 countries now recognise World Hepatitis Day each year through events such as demonstrations, concerts, talk shows, free screenings, poster campaigns, flash mobs and vaccination drives. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Hepatitis Alliance prepare and publish a report on the events held across the globe each year.

Fake vaccines

National Drug Authority (NDA) carried out an investigation and intercepted counterfeit vaccines from Serum Institute of India in private facilities in January and February. All the samples which were picked from Mbarara showed inconsistencies.

Consequently, the NDA spokesperson Fredrick Ssekyana calls upon people who got the vaccine beginning of this year to go back and be vaccinated again from Government facilities or the private facilities which were cleared.

Most private facilities in the country are offering fake vaccines, it is only Case Hospital, International Hospital Kampala, Norvik Hospital and Nakasero Hospital with genuine vaccines.

Ssekyana advises people who go back for the vaccine to first look at the vial, if you are getting it from the private hospitals and it is 10ml, chances of it being fake are high. Private facilities are supposed to have 1ml ampoule, which has two green bands on the label.

The genuine 10ml vial of Hepatitis B vaccine from Serum Institute of India should at least have:

Batch number

A manufacturing and expiry date with a shelf-life of three years

Two purple bands on the label, one on the top and the other is at the bottom.

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