Worldwide, over 2 billion persons have been exposed to Hepatitis B Virus infection and the majority of these live in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
Hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver caused by infectious such as viruses, bacteria and non-infectious agents such as toxins, drugs, alcohol. If not managed may progress to chronic infection with long term complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.
Hepatitis patients may present signs and symptoms including; Yellow discoloration of the eyes, dark urine, extreme body weakness, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In some cases however, Hepatitis patients may not show any symptoms (asymptomatic).
Dr. Felix Kawooya, an associate with Uganda’s Ministry of Health says it is important for people to seek Hepatitis B screening services in order to confirm their health status. These services are available and FREE in all public Health Center IIIs across Uganda. Screening services are also available in private hospitals but at a fee.
Information from the Ministry of Health shows that Hepatitis continues to be a health burden in Uganda with an estimated that 4.1% of the population aged 15-64 years having chronic hepatitis B infection.
Your liver is an important organ that filters toxins from your blood, makes enzymes that help you digest food, stores sugar and nutrients, and helps you fight infections.
Hepatitis B spreads by mucosal exposure to infected blood or other body fluids such as vaginal and seminal fluids. In highly endemic areas, Hepatitis virus is mostly spread from mother to child at birth or through exposure to infected blood from an infected close contact to an uninfected child during the first five years of life.
It can also be spread through sharing of sharps such as needles, instruments used for tattooing and body piercing, razor blades, contaminated surgical instruments (including instruments used for tribal markings), sexual intercourse and blood transfusion.
Hepatitis B does not spread through greeting, sharing food, utensils, water, clothes, or witchcraft.
Hepatitis B vaccination is the main stay for prevention and Uganda currently has strategies for prevention of transmission of hepatitis B and C virus infection. These include routine childhood vaccination against hepatitis B, but adults can also be vaccinated if they have been screened and found to be negative for the virus.
Treatment services for Hepatitis patients are available in health center IVs, General Hospitals and Regional Referrals across Uganda, and are FREE.