In the bid to join the global community in the prevention and effective management of Hepatitis, the Federal Government has launched the first National Policy for Viral Hepatitis. The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, announced this in Abuja, during a press briefing and official launch of the National Policy on Viral Hepatitis, as part of activities commemorating the 2015 World Hepatitis Day.
Mr. Awute pointed out that Nigeria is the first African country to have a National Policy on Viral Hepatitis, which he said, represents one of the most befitting legacies of Nigeria’s relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).
He explained that the policy is to assist in streamlining all activities in its National Strategic Plan (2015 –-2019) for the scale up of intervention programmes for the control of viral hepatitis. Mr. Awute also informed that a National Technical Working Group has been constituted to provide technical assistance to the programme.
In the light of the afore-going effort, Mr. Awute emphasised that a press briefing is expedient to create awareness globally on the dangers of the silent killer and ways to prevent and manage the disease.
He also stressed that in view of the impact of hepatitis on health, caused partly by commonly practiced human activities, it is important to act now so that Nigerian citizens can be protected from the disease. He also said that, much of the predisposing health risk is avoidable through adequate awareness creation, behavioural change, education and ensuring effective screening of all blood for transfusion.
Mr. Awute also pledged that the Ministry has joint responsibility to move hepatitis control in Nigeria to the next level. In his words, ‘This is why the Federal Ministry of Health is using this medium to commence the required health alliances with the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Education.
He also eulogised the former Head of State and President of Yakubu Gowon Centre, General Yakubu Gowon rtd, who is the Good-Will Ambassador for Hepatitis.
In his remark, the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon rtd, thanked the Ministry for inviting him and his Centre to partner with the Ministry in combatting the scourge of Hepatitis. He also commended the Health Ministry for the eradication of Guinea Worm, Polio and Ebola.
The Director, Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale in her welcome address said that the Ministry of Environment and Education are teaming up with FMOH to tackle the problem of Hepatitis in a holistic manner.
A statement by Imaobong Udoh, said the theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day, 2015 is ‘PREVENT HEPATITIS, ACT NOW’.