A Consultant Gastroenterologist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Olufunmilayo Lesi, has appealed to Nigerians as a matter of urgency to go for test determining their Hepatitis B status. He warned that the liver-damaging virus is ruthlessly ravaging the Country with over 20 million Nigerians currently living with the deadly virus.
Lesi called on the Federal Government to declare Hepatitis B a health emergency as it did with HIV/AIDS and Ebola. He opined that the figure is very high when you compare it to other countries and the worst part is less than five percent know that they have the disease. Speaking further, she added I run the Hepatitis Clinic in LUTH and I see many young men and women with liver cancer, which is the product of untreated Hepatitis B infection.
In a detailed Study published by the Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice, the results stated that ''the pooled prevalence estimate for Nigeria was 13.6%... Assuming Nigeria has an estimated population of 160 million people, the overall HBV burden based on our estimates would be 21.760 million seropositive persons.''
Another research findings reported by Pan African Medical Journal concluded thus: ''Hepatitis B Virus infection is of high endemicity in Nigeria thus early detection, treatment of infected pregnant women, immunoprophylaxis for exposed newborns and surveillance for those with chronic infection is essential. Health education programs on prevention and control measures must be instituted.''
In a Review published by Researchgate and titled, Hepatitis B Infection in Nigeria, the Conclusion stated as follows: ''The high prevalence of 13.3% questions the effectiveness of the Nigerian HBV Vaccination Program. Therefore, there is a need for health promotion awareness campaign to educate the general public on the danger, mode of transmission and the risk factors associated with HBV infection especially among the youth population.''
In a similar development, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, observed that ''Hepatitis in Nigeria is a health emergency. Its national prevalence is three times more than that of HIV/AIDS and diabetes. We should fight it as we fought guinea worm, Ebola and as we are fighting polio infections.''
Gowon appeal to Nigerians to ensure they are tested for the virus. He disclosed that if positive find a way to immediately get rid of it from your system.