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Hepatitis B endemic in Ghana – Health Minister

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CrowdMs Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health, on Saturday called on Ghanaians to voluntarily test for Hepatitis B to know their status, saying it is more infectious than HIV.

She said treatment for the disease was possible if discovered early and that those, who tested negative, would have to be vaccinated against the virus.

Ms Ayittey said this when Okyeame Kwame, the ace Hip Life artist together with MDS-Lancet laboratories on Saturday held free screening of Hepatitis B to hundreds of people in Accra.

She said Ghana formed part of countries where the prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B infection was high, especially among blood donors.

“Various studies conducted in Ghana indicate that Hepatitis B is endemic in Ghana with prevalence rates ranging from 6.7% to 10% in blood donors, 6.4% in pregnant women and 15.6% in children among the general population,” she said.

She said the mode of transmission of Hepatitis B included sexual contact, blood transfusions and transfusion with other human blood products; re-use of contaminated needles and syringes, and vertical transmission from mother to child during childbirth.

Ms Ayittey said government had established the National Viral Hepatitis Surveillance and Control Programme to carry out nationwide immunisation programme to vaccinate children under one year with Hepatitis B vaccine.

She commended Okyeame Kwame and MDS-Lancet laboratories for the free screening exercise and called on other individuals and organisations to emulate.

Okyeame Kwame said he decided to organise the free screening of Hepatitis B after discovering that testing was expensive and could not be afforded by many Ghanaians.

He said with the support of MDS-Lancet laboratories and other organisations, about 5,000 people across the country had benefitted from the free screening exercise since its inception four years ago.

He promised to continue collaborating with other organisations to ensure that Ghana was rid of Hepatitis B infection.

Dr Paul Sekyere-Nyantakyi, Chief Executive Officer of MDS-Lancet laboratories, said the free screening exercise was part of its corporate social responsibility.

Source: GNA

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