By Henry Odeh
The Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Bashir Bello, says preventive health will be given top priority in the agenda of the state government.
Bello stated this on Tuesday in Ibadan, while addressing newsmen as part of activities commemorating this year’s World Hepatitis Day.
The World Hepatitis Day is being celebrated every July 28 to create awareness on the problem of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes series of health problems, including liver cancer.
The awareness is to educate people on the burden of the infection and what people needed to do to prevent it.
According to the commissioner, viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases identified as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, which affects millions of people worldwide, causing both acute (short term) and chronic (long term) liver disease.
He, however, noted that deaths from hepatitis had been on the increase, unlike tuberculosis and HIV that had been declining.
Bello said that the state government, in collaboration with technical partners such as UNICEF and WHO, had been providing financial and technical assistance for immunisation programmes to reduce the burden of hepatitis B infection.
He said that his ministry had organised series of public enlightenment and sensitisation campaigns among women, men and youths in the state to further bring the interventions into focus.
The awareness campaign, the commissioner said, was in collaboration with APIN Public Health Initiatives and Association for Orphans and Vulnarable Children NGOs in Nigeria (AONN).
He urged all stakeholders in the fight against hepatitis to work as a team towards improving community awareness of the different forms of hepatitis as well as their mode of transmission in order to strengthen prevention.
Bello also tasked them on widespread screening and linkage to care as an important gap to be addressed to achieve global elimination goals by 2020.
In their goodwill messages, Mrs Bola Thompson and Mr Marcus Williams, both representing APIN and AONN respectively, reiterated their organisations’ commitment to supporting government in the fight against hepatitis in the state.