State Minister for Health Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has said government has so far taken the necessary steps to curb the Hepatitis B scourge.
Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, the state minister for health and general duties
The minister was appearing before the parliamentary committee on health to respond to the petition by the people of Adjumani and Moyo districts over the disease.
He said government realized that Hepatitis B was becoming a threat to the country and decided to introduce vaccination against the disease, adding that children aged below 11 years are Hepatitis B resistant since they were all immunized when the vaccine was introduced in 2002.
The minister said that government has also introduced a programme on injection safety where the reuse of syringes was prohibited as facilitated by the introduction of auto syringes.
He added that government has also tried to reinforce universal precautions in all health facilities to reduce transmission of Hepatitis B.
Tumwesigye added that the ministry has requested National Medical Stores to procure the core antigens that will help in differentiating the active hepatitis B from any Hepatitis B Infection.
MPS on the committee however said that people do not get full dozes because they can’t afford the drugs. They also complained about the absence of testing kits in the West Nile adding that it has put many people in danger.
Tumwesigye asked the committee to give the ministry more time to prepare a write-up to specific actions that are being taken in cases of Adjumani and Moyo where the situation is dire.
The minister said that although districts of Adjumani and Moyo are affected the most, Hepatitis B is widespread adding that the highest prevalence is in North Eastern Uganda at 23.9 percent, North Central at 20.7 percent, West Nile at 18.5 percent and Western Uganda at 10 percent.
Hepatitis B is caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) that affects the immune system and usually leads to inflammation and damage to the liver.
HBV causes damage to the genetic material inside liver cells and also causes liver cancer. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 240 million people worldwide have chronic or long-term liver infections.
About 600, 000 people die every year due to the acute or chronic consequences of hepatitis B. WHO explains that the Hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person.