There is no cure or vaccination against Hepatitis C Viral (HCV) infection for now as prevention is the only option available to the public, the Federal Ministry of Health announced on Monday.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, disclosed this in Abuja during the inauguration of the Technical Working Group on Viral Hepatitis control in Nigeria.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Amb. Sani Bala, the minister said Hepatitis B and C could be transmitted through blood or body fluids of an infected person.·
“Hepatitis is a major public health problem worldwide though more prevalent in developing countries like Nigeria.
“More than 2 million people are infected with Hepatitis B virus worldwide while some 280 million are chronic carriers having the virus in their liver.
“About 2 million also of these carriers die each year as a result of liver cirrhosis or primary liver cell cancer induced by the virus.
“A recent survey conducted by the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control supported by Roch Pharmaceuticals showed that Hepatitis B and C viruses have prevalence of 11 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.
“While there is a vaccine for the prevention of hepatitis B, there is no vaccine currently available for vaccination against the hepatitis C.
He said hepatitis was a deadly disease, but added that not much attention had been given to the control of the disease.
Chukwu said the Federal Ministry of Health established the technical working group that would initiate effective framework for viral hepatitis control in the country.
“In view of the impact of hepatitis on health caused partly by common human activities, it is important to act now so that together we can contribute to protecting our citizens from morbidity and mortality from hepatitis.
“Much of the health risks are avoidable through adequate awareness creation, behavioural change, education and effective screening of all blood for transfusion,”the minister said.
Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, the Consultant Special Grade II, Head Prevention, National HIV and STI Control Programme in the ministry, said Hepatitis B, C and D were usually transmitted through sex as well as from parents.
He said an estimated 57 per cent of cases of liver cirrhosis and 78 per cent of primary liver cell cancer resulted from HCV.
Anyaike said Hepatitis C is a virus, or infection that caused liver disease and inflammation of the liver.