At least two billion people out of the nearly seven billion world population are currently infected with Hepatitis B (HBV), THISDAY has learnt.
The Chairman of the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria (SOGHIN), Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH), Sokoto chapter, Dr. Abubakar Maiyaki, made the disclosure at the 2015 World Hepatitis Day held recently in the state.
He stated that the estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that, approximately 350 million people across the world were living with chronic infections and results in about one million deaths.
“In Nigeria, it is estimated that about 20 million people are infected and about 5 million die of the consequences.
“Hepatitis B can survive and remain infectious on environmental surfaces for at least seven days and it is about 100 times more infectious than HIV. It can be found in all major body fluids of infected people, including blood, semen, sweat, urine, vaginal fluid and even saliva,” the medical expert said.
Maiyaki explained that the Hepatitis B could be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during child birth, and also through multiple sexual partners, recycled needle, transfusion of unscreened blood, circumcision, among others.
He also stated that 170 million people were chronically infected with Hepatitis C worldwide, with 5 million in Nigeria.
“This disease is a silent killer and the only way one can know its status is by getting screened and the time to act is now,” he advised all stakeholders.
In a remark, the Chief Medical Director of UDUTH, Dr. Yakubu Ahmed, who was represented by the Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tijjani Saddique, pledged to do whatever it takes to ensure that people in the state get efficient healthcare services.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health in the state, Dr. Buhari Bello, promised that the state government would partner the society and UDUTH to ensure the routine screening of people across the state.