Abari, in a speech at a ceremony to flag-off the commencement of “Free Screening and Subsidised Vaccination in Achieving Zero Hepatitis Project in Nigeria” on Monday in Abuja, said that the partnership would reinvigorate the need for health consciousness.
“We are marking the beginning of Zero Hepatitis in Nigeria; the campaign will buttress the management of Type B, which has no cure but can be prevented through vaccination.
“More than 10 per cent of people are already infected. World Health Organisation (WHO), says out of 27 million Nigerians, only five million are aware of their status.
“The reality of the endemic has made it imperative that we leverage on our platform to create awareness about the disease for an individual to make decisions in seeking a medical remedy.
“We believe that knowledge is power as well as awareness creation because it gives us the authority to consciously seek to know our status.
“If negative, get vaccinated, but if positive, get counsel on how to manage the condition. Hepatitis B infection is not a death sentence,’’ the NOA boss said.
He further said that NOA’s partnership with MOF was built on a mutual commitment to the welfare of the people and for knowledge empowerment which will play an important role.
“The collaboration centres on the fulfilment of the Agency’s mandate to promote partnership with relevant institutions in achieving national goals.
“For Hepatitis virus not to turn to a national health emergency, we are compelled to create awareness.
“The plan is to draw as many as possible to join us in the campaign. We are targeting state, media, health sector players and government organisations.
“Also, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and corporate individuals should ensure that we create a wave so that it will be difficult to ignore the Hepatitis disease.
“We are determined to prohibit the Hepatitis scourge from becoming like the annual Lassa fever, through robust sensitisation, free screening and subsidised vaccination,” Abari said.
He added that NOA had set up a centre in its headquarter to carry out free screening and subsidised vaccination for the people within that vicinity.
Mr Mike Omotosho, a pharmacist and philanthropist, in his remarks, said that it was necessary to educate Nigerians about the dangers of the disease.
Omotosho said that it was sad that a huge number of people were living with the disease without being aware.
“Hepatitis is a silent killer with mundane and similar symptoms as ordinary flu. In some cases, there may not be symptoms at all,’’ the pharmacist said.
Omotosho, President of the Nigerian Hepatitis Zero Commission, said that the disease was an infection that affected the liver, stressing that it was more terrible with Hepatitis B and C.
He emphasised the need for Nigerians to “get talking, get tested, get vaccinated and get treated”.