TOYIN ADEBAYO, ABUJA
Dr. Osagie Ehanire , the Minister of Health has revealed that about 20 million people in Nigeria are chronically infected with Hepatitis.
He also hinted that , government has committed a $3billion Nigeria Strategy on Immunization and PHC Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS) .This is our plan for transitioning to financial ownership of the immunization and primary health care system over a ten-year period, from 2018-2028.
He made this known in his message to commemorate the 2020 World Hepatitis Day and the launch of the of the guidelines for prevention of mother to child transmission of Hepatitis -B.
He stated that; “Nigeria is endemic for both viral hepatitis B and C. In 2018 Nigeria conducted a National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey which showed a prevalence of 8.1% for Hepatitis B (HBV) and 1.1% for Hepatitis C (HCV). We could estimate that about 20 million people are chronically infected.
“We recognize the importance of vaccination as a critical intervention in our determination to eliminate HBV infection by 2030. In the light of this, Nigeria was one of the first African countries to introduce a birth dose of HBV vaccine in 2004. Furthermore, we established the National Viral Hepatitis Control programme in 2013, to coordinate all national efforts and through this, developed National documents, including policies, a strategic plan, guidelines, training materials and a treatment center directory, which are in use today. An important next step is establishing a routine surveillance system to improve on our reporting on the Global Hepatitis Surveillance systems (GHSS) platform.
“We are working in alignment with the Regional Resolution to reduce Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection to less than 2% in children under five years by the end of this year”, he explained.
The Minister added that, one of the major challenges of Hepatitis B birth dose vaccination was the inadequate domestic contribution to finance vaccines and expand access to services. In recent times, Nigeria has made important progress in this area.
Saying, we are committed to a $3billion Nigeria Strategy on Immunization and PHC Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS). This is our plan for transitioning to financial ownership of the immunization and primary health care system over a ten-year period, from 2018-2028.
All in all, the plan aims to address inequities in the uptake of routine vaccines and includes improvement of coverage for HBV Birth Dose. In 2019, HBV birth dose coverage was 59%. We hope to continue to increase coverage as we work towards elimination. It is important to note that Nigeria has not defaulted in its co-financing obligations of routine immunization implementation for the past 3 years, he stated.
He continued; “We have also worked on strengthening routine immunization through the establishment of a National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC) in 2017, and there have been several gains through the creation of this platform. For example, its heavy focus on supply chain management has helped to improve availability of vaccines at district and facility levels.
“We acknowledge the significant work that is required to address prevention of mother to child transmission of viral hepatitis. The robust policy on Reproductive Health, Maternal, New-born, and Child Health (RMNCH) to screen all pregnant mothers for HIV, syphilis and viral hepatitis presents a great opportunity that can be strengthened to improve prevention of mother to child transmission of viral hepatitis.”
The Minister , however, acknowledged the need to continue to build capacities of health care providers and expand social mobilization efforts especially during this pandemic. Together we can achieve a Hepatitis Free Future.