Abuja — Worried by the rising cases of viral hepatitis, the Federal Government Thursday in Abuja launched a National Policy for the Control of Viral Hepatitis.

The policy was facilitated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) while the country office provided the logistics and technical support to the process.

They also aided the effective review of the draft at both the WHO regional office and headquarters.

According to a 2013 WHO report, viral hepatitis is responsible for 1.44 million deaths with an estimated 500 million people currently living with the responsible viruses.

The same report revealed that, about 2 billion people have been infected with hepatitis B virus globally.

Although there is no comprehensive national data in Nigeria, a recent population based survey conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health in 2013 revealed prevalence of viral hepatitis B and C to be 11.0 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.

Speaking at the formal launch of the document, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Linis Awute said: “In spite of the high prevalence of these diseases, most people infected are unaware and are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and hepato cellular carcinoma which are consequences of chronic hepatitis (hepatitis lasting beyond six months).

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