An NGO, Centre for Initiative and Development, CFID, says more than 20 million Nigerians are living with viral hepatitis.
Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, Danjuma Adda, made the disclosure at a one-day planning meeting for the 2021 World Hepatitis Day (WHD), on Friday in Jalingo, Taraba.
According to him, Adda 1.3 million people die globally of the disease annually, adding that one person dies every 30 seconds globally due to hepatitis-related illnesses.
Adda, who is also the President-elect, World Hepatitis Alliance, WHA, said that 60 million people were living with the disease in Africa.
He added that the disease had a prevalence rate of between 15 per cent and 19 per cent in Taraba.
Adda, however, noted that control and prevention measures by government were very weak, calling on all stakeholders to engage in hepatitis elimination campaign.
He commended Govenor Darius Ishaku of Taraba for being the first governor to scale up hepatitis programme in the country, with an appeal that he should invest more to end its prevalence in the state.
The chief executive officer attributed high prevalence rate of the disease to consumption of alcohol, herbal medicine and concoctions by people.
He also identified mismanagement of the virus by hospitals as another factor that had delayed mitigation of the virus in people living with it.
Adda stressed the need for awareness campaigns among the populace and health workers on how to curb prevalence rate of the disease.
He expressed his organisation’s commitment to exposing the social injustice being caused by lack of action on viral hepatitis in Nigeria through advocacy.
“We need to fight the stigma attached to the disease. It is an open disease that kills more than AIDS and malaria. Although it is curable, it is highly unaffordable.
“I picked up the challenge of carrying out the campaign, especially in Taraba and Nigeria at large where there is 15 per cent to 19 per cent hepatitis prevalence rate,” he said.
Meanwhile, World Hepatitis Day is coming up on June 29, with the theme: “Hepatitis can’t wait.”