Efforts of the Federal Government and other stakeholders in the health sector towards eradicating the deadly hepatitis C disease appear to have started yielding fruits.
As the world marked Hepatitis Day on July 28, Egypt-based Pharco Corporation, offered to provide support for Nigeria’s Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) through awareness creation and provision of potent medication for the elimination of the disease in the country.
It was gathered that within three years, Pharco, partnering with the government of Egypt successfully cured more that 1.9 million hepatitis C patients in Egypt, and recorded similar success in other three African countries.
The corporation harkened to the yearnings of Nigeria and keyed in through its strategic Nigerian partner – SEPAT Pharmaceuticals Limited. Managing Director of SEPAT, Mr Ozo Pat Ifeanyi Oramah, told Daily Sun in Lagos: “Pharco is bringing into Nigeria its veritable experience; its success story across Africa in the elimination of the deadly disease. The corporation is eradicating hepatitis C in many African countries by a product that is suitable and efficacious for Africans.”
As part of the measures already put in place towards ensuring that the 2022 date set aside for the elimination of hepatitis in Nigeria becomes realistic, he disclosed that Pharco would soon commence a wide and comprehensive screening exercise where for early detection of antibodies and hepatitis.
He said the company would also partner with the Ministry of Health in monitoring, through its diagnostic partner company, to reduce and save cost, adding that the monitoring exercise would be followed up with the provision of technical trainings.
On the awareness creation, he explained that the major targets would be students in higher institutions, market women, artisans and the elderly people: “In a compressive campaign, suiting international best practices, the International Club of Hepatitis C, powered by Pharco will be extended to the universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, tspreading awareness brochures as well as using the social media.
“The vision of our partners, Pharco of Egypt, through the initiative and passionate drives of the CEO, Dr Sherin Helmy – Africa Free of Hepatitis C 2025 Initiative- is to eliminate hepatitis C in Africa by 2025. We are convinced that with the right synergies and partnerships, the 2022 date set to eradicate the disease is feasible.”
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. The virus is spread with contaminated blood, like from sharing needles or from unsterile tattoo equipment.
Over 100, 000 cases are reported yearly in Nigeria but majority of the cases are not reported because over 90 per cent of sufferers are not aware of their infection status until it becomes severe or fatal.
On the African continent, hepatitis has remained a major killer of people with a vast majority of patients unaware of their infection status until it becomes chronic or fatal.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says millions of people die yearly as a result of the disease in Africa. WHO 2017 report, revealed that Africa has the highest estimated regional Hepatitis C virus prevalence of 5.3 per cent, with Nigeria having a high prevalence of the disease; especially in the Northern part with 2.2 per cent.
Worried by the frightening situation, the Federal Ministry of Health commenced a sensitisation programme to expand awareness and ensuring that half of hepatitis C patients were aware of their infection status by 2020. In addition, the ministry targeted 90 per cent of the patient’s get cured by 2020 in Nigeria, and the country get free of hepatitis C by 2022.