The government of Ghana launched here on Tuesday the national policy to combat the viral hepatitis that causes liver cancer.

The 29-page policy document will, among other things, provide guidance for all stakeholders to play their respective roles in the establishment of an effective surveillance, prevention and control measures.
It is also expected to provide treatment and support for the afflicted and conduct relevant research to support the treatment and control of the disease.

In his message, Minister of Health Alex Segbefia pledged that a national program for hepatitis control had been established to drive the policy and see to its proper implementation.

“Ghana belongs to the areas where the prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B infection is high, around 8 percent, and that of Hepatitis C, between 5 percent and 10 percent. However, the good news is that hepatitis can be prevented; therefore, we must all get informed and learn how to protect ourselves,” Segbefia urged.

There are about 2.5 million hepatitis cases in Ghana, according to official data, with a high fatality rate due to late reporting and misinformation.

Head of Disease Surveillance at the Ghana Health Service Emmanuel Dzotsi said the policy was being introduced to fill the policy gap in the fight against the disease.

“There is a lack of policy and guidelines for the delivery of services for the prevention and control of Hepatitis, and data in the sector is also unreliable, with uncoordinated activities,” he explained.

He said there was also uncontrolled hepatitis-B screening and vaccination of the populace by unauthorized persons, as Ghanaians had limited knowledge and education about the disease.

“Our goal is to ensure that viral hepatitis (Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E) is no more of public health importance in Ghana; that is to reduce morbidity and mortality to the barest minimum,” said Dzotsi.

He said the implementation of the policy would help to prevent the transmission of the viral hepatitis within high risk groups and the general public, and establish an effective surveillance system for viral hepatitis and its co-morbidities.

Olufemi Eyitayo Lawson, Country Representative of Roche, the international organization specialized in producing effective control and preventive drugs against hepatitis, which also assisted Ghana to develop the document, said his organization would continue to support the country to implement the policy.

In a statement, World Health Organization (WHO) Country Director Magda Robalo said the organization would continue to work with the country in all areas of health delivery, including the project on Hepatitis.
The last Tuesday of July each year is marked around the world as World Hepatitis Day. Enditem


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