Benin — A medical expert and former Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Edo State chapter, Philip Ugbodaga, on Monday, declared that about 20 million (12 per cent) Nigerians are currently infected with hepatitis B and C.
Ugbodaga made the disclosure during the 2014 World Hepatitis Day campaign rally organised by Clem Agba Foundation at the NUJ Press Centre in Benin City.
"This debilitating disease kills more than the dreaded HIV/AIDS. But surprisingly, not many people know much about hepatitis. More than 350 million people are infected globally with hepatitis B and more than 150 million people are infected with hepatitis C.
"In Nigeria, up to eight per cent of our population are infected with hepatitis B and up to four percent are infected with hepatitis C, hence the need to create awareness on the causative organism of this disease and to let people know about and how to prevent the disease.
"World Hepatitis Day is celebrated on 28 August every year. The theme for the 2014 World Hepatitis Day is 'Think Again.' Let us think again about the millions of people who have died from this unsung silent killer disease. Let us think about people who do not know what causes hepatitis and let us think again about what we need to do to ensure that our people get information on the killer disease," Ugbodaga said.
The Clem Agba Foundation was set up this year by Edo State Commissioner for Environment, Clem Agba, in memory of his mother, who died of liver disease traceable to infection with hepatitis virus. The foundation was set up to create awareness on the debilitating viral disease.
It has slated a sensitisation and awareness campaign for Thursday, August 31 at the State Specialist Hospital in Benin City, where hepatitis screening would be conducted for hospital workers who are most at risk of the dreaded disease in the course of discharging their duties.