Zambians urged to test for hepatitis


Four hundred million people globally are said to be infected with the hepatitis virus but only five percent of this number are aware that they have the virus.


And only one percent of the people with the hepatitis virus are on treatment.

Chairperson for the national technical working group on hepatitis Joseph Mulenga said this in August 2016 during the belated commemoration of the world hepatitis day held at Matero main clinic in Lusaka.


The commemoration, which is held on July 28 every year, was commemorated under the theme” No Hepatitis, Act now”.


Dr. Mulenga said it was these worrying figures that have prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to urge its member states to formulate strategies on how to raise awareness on the killer disease.


He expressed worry that in Zambia, there were no known statistics of how many people are infected except among blood donors.


He also disclosed that the Ministry of Health is discarding more blood due to hepatitis infection than HIV.


Dr. Mulenga further said this has impelled the ministry to come up with plans for surveillance to determine how many people are infected with the hepatitis virus so that measures of prevention and treatment can be intensified.


And speaking at the same function, Lusaka District Commissioner Davison Mulenga, who was the guest of honour but was represented by the District Administrative Officer Clement Andeleki, said government was committed to providing Zambians with equitable access to quality cost effective health services as close to the family as possible.


Captain Mulenga said that it was worrying that between six and ten million people globally are newly infected with hepatitis.


He said this was the more reason why the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders need to make concerted efforts in addressing the problem.


He has since called on the community, leaders at all levels, no-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other partners to join hands with government in raising awareness of the extent of the problem and how the different stakeholders can contribute towards preventing and controlling it.


Meanwhile Lusaka Province Medical Director Kennedy Malama urged members of the public to ensure that they know their hepatitis status and act to prevent and control the spread of the diseases.


And Lusaka District Medical Officer Gideon Zulu has called on government through Ministry of Health to ensure that test kits for hepatitis are made available in all health centres.


Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and can be transmitted through contaminated water and food stuffs, body contact with blood or body fluids, unsafe infections or transfusion and also from mother to child or through sexual contact and interaction.