A US based Ghanaian professor of medicine is advocating a nationwide campaign to increase public awareness on the spread of Hepatitis.
Professor Lewis Roberts says only a few of the estimated 10–15 percent of Ghanaian adults with chronic hepatitis B are aware of their condition.
The W.H.O. member reveals about half of Hepatitis B patients contract the disease before age five but detection and treatment could delay until about 45 years after extensive damage to the liver.
Professor Roberts warns Ghana risks losing many of her productive youth to Hepatitis if no action is taken immediately to stem the tide.
The renowned hematologist wants screening for the disease intensified to cover the entire populace for appropriate intervention.
“When we study the disease, we realize that the Hepatitis B is acquired very early in life. About half of people get it before the age of 5 and by the time they are 15 most people have gotten the disease. What that means is that when it causes cancer of the liver, most of the people are quite young. So we are losing young people and it’s important that we have general screening of the population so that we identify people who have Hepatitis. It’s important that those of them who need treatment receive treatment,” said Professor Roberts.
He is also urging policy makers to adopt what is known as the Taiwan-approach in dealing with the spread of the Hepatitis.
“In Taiwan which used to be like Ghana, about 20 percent of Adults had Hepatitis. They were very effective in vaccinating the children, so right now no youth has Hepatitis because they have all been vaccinated,” he observed. “So it’s important for us at birth to give a dose of Hepatitis B vaccine to every baby even before they get their regular vaccinations which start at 6 weeks. The W.H.O recommends the birth dose but we are not doing it most places”.
Professor Roberts spoke to Luv News at the maiden Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Ghana Association for the Study of Liver and Digestive Diseases.
The theme was “Managing Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease- Challenges to practice in a Low -middle Income Country’’.
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