Group offers free hepatitis test in Nasarawa

Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI) in partnership with SHECA Foundation and Philips Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited, Friday, offered free hepatitis tests to 600 People in Nasarawa state.

Executive Director (ED) of BYI, Envoh Emmanuel Okolo, disclosed this in Lafia, Nasarawa state capital.

“We have offered free hepatitis test to 600 people in Dakan Sarki and Kwandare communities, in Lafia local government,” he said.

He said the intervention was to assist the people to know their status and take precautionary measures to avert escalating health condition.

The ED called on Nigerian government to scale-up screening and expansion of access to affordable diagnostic and treatment services to all Nigerians so as to get tested and treatment for hepatitis B and C infection.

He equally called on other key stakeholders to recognise the urgency required in scaling up access to viral hepatitis diagnosis, expanding adult /birth -dose vaccination and affordable quality treatment.

Okolo further said the spread of the infection was a threat to the global health system amidst Covid 19 pandemic.

“A hepatitis-free future is achievable with a united effort. Hepatitis can’t wait.

“We have made real progress in some communities of Nasarawa state, Benue state and FCT on preventing and scaling-up referrals for positive clients on viral hepatitis to access treatment, and expanding adult/infant vaccination. But Nigeria, access to prevention, testing and treatment for viral hepatitis remains far too low, with estimated 80 per cent of them can’t access the care they need,” he said.

He therefore, called on members of the public to go for regular check-ups in order to know their status early enough.

Also speaking, the programme officer of BYI, Victoria C. Lakpa, stated that COVID-19 pandemic has impeded the development and delivery of core services that tackle viral hepatitis and other infectious and non-communicable diseases.

She highlighted some of the challenges in addressing the scourge of hepatitis to include low level of awareness, ignorance among general population and lack of funding for hepatitis programmes.

Others are stigma surrounding hepatitis B and C, high cost of diagnosis and inadequate access to drugs.

She said the challenges have led to a lack of adherence of the current guidelines, and significant increase in hepatitis B and C testing and other services in the country.