BUJUMBURA August 9th (ABP) – Burundi joined the world on Friday August 5, 2022 in celebrating World Viral Hepatitis Day which is normally celebrated on July 28 every year. The theme for this year is “Putting hepatitis treatment within your reach”.
In Bujumbura, the ceremonies of this day took place in the public garden (Rohero zone, Mukaza commune) where voluntary and free screening activities were organized. According to World Health Organization (WHO) delegate Dr Denise Nkezimana, that year’s theme aims to highlight the need to bring hepatitis services closer to health care facilities for communities who need it, in order to improve access to treatment. According to WHO figures, in Africa, more than 90 million people are living with hepatitis, or 26% of people suffering from that disease worldwide.
The WHO also specifies that the transmission of hepatitis from mother to child remains high with a prevalence of 2.5% in children under 5 years old.
According to Dr Nkezimana, WHO has adopted for the African region, the 2021-2030 framework for an integrated multisectoral response to tuberculosis, HIV, sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis. That framework aims to support the major steps which are the introduction of hepatitis B vaccination at birth in 35 States where we have the diagnosis of 30% of people already suffering from chronic hepatitis, and the start on treatment of 30% of people suffering from hepatitis B and C.
The representative of the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr. Oscar Ntihabose, who is director in charge of care within the said ministry, indicated that a study carried out in Burundi showed that between 5 to 10% of people suffer from hepatitis B and about 10% of people suffer from hepatitis C.
He did not fail to point out that despite raising awareness on hepatitis since 2017 in Burundi, this hepatitis disease remains unknown to the public because of certain challenges. He cited the still insufficient screening structures, treatment equipment and technologies, lack of information on the disease, the high cost of tests and drugs, the inadequacy of laboratory platforms, and others.
At the end of the ceremonies, a person who suffered from hepatitis and who was cured testified to the difficulties she experienced in receiving the drugs. He took that opportunity to ask the government of Burundi, including the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, to make available drugs for viral hepatitis.
Note that the modes of transmission of viral hepatitis are the sexual route, including unprotected sexual intercourse and multiple sexual partners. For the blood route, there are unsafe injections, sharing and handling of syringes and contaminated sharp objects, scarification, tattoos, removal of the uvula, use of injection drugs and others. For mother-child transmission, it is during pregnancy, childbirth, perinatal. Via the faecal-oral route, transmission occurs through the consumption of contaminated water or food.
The symptoms that may appear are jaundice of the eyes, intense fatigue and abdominal, joint and muscle pain, also specifying that in most cases viral hepatitis can remain asymptomatic for a long time, i.e. without clinical signs.