This is Hepatitis, Know it!, Confront it!!
Four years ago, I went in for a hepatitis B test. It was expensive; it was GHc40. I gaped, I wondered; how will the ordinary Ghanaian afford? How will he/she even know that he must fear this stealthy killer with rarely any symptoms at all?
I organized two doctors; Dr. Kwame Boadu and Dr. Osei Appiah to conduct free screening for people who may not be able to afford and also sensitize the public about it. At the time, WHO had given the prevalence rate to be 12%. I researched about it, and I was alarmed. We engaged the media so that the sensitization will get a wider coverage- especially the social media in order to reach the youth.
Ei! By the way, hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis B virus which causes inflammation of the liver which can eventually cause death http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis_B. It is basically transmitted through body fluids, but the main mode of transmission is through sex.
Coming back to the screening, so far, we have screened 5,000 people since 2009. When we started screening in 2009, as per WHO statistics, the prevalence rate was 12%; but after 4 years of screening, according to our data, the prevalence rate is 15% and counting.
I know that I am not the only person passionate about the screening, There are other bodies involved; both private and government – putting in efforts to see hepatitis B driven away.
My worry is, after all this effort from all involved, the disease is still potent, and the prevalent rate has not come down. I ponder over these questions:
- Are we not doing enough?
- Are we using the right communication tools?
- Are people still just having unprotected sex indiscriminately?
- Are people simply not ready to change their lifestyles?
One thing comes to mind; I have realized over the years that screening without vaccination takes all the people we screened, who are negative, back into the high risk zone. I have failed at a few challenges in life, but hepatitis B will certainly not be in the list. I WILL FACE IT, CONFRONT IT AND DEFEAT IT!!
From next year, though expensive and administratively complex, I believe that if we; the government, and all of us involved in the sensitization process add the vaccination to it, we will arrest the epidemic.
Thank you MTN Ghana Foundation, MDS Lancet Laboratories, GhanaWeb, Japan Motors, Vita Milk, DDP and all my media partners. One Mic Entertainment is truly grateful to you for supporting this save-a-life-campaign.
IT WILL SURELY BE OK!!!!
okyeamekwame / ghanaweb