Vaccinating new-borns will eliminate Hepatitis B in Ghana – Expert 

Professor Charles Ampong Adjei, Associate Professor in Public Health Nursing, University of Ghana, says vaccinating new-borns against Hepatitis B within 24 hours of delivery would help eliminate the disease in the country. 

Professor Adjei said such efforts would help to ensure the prevention of mother to child transmission from an infected mother, the predominant mode of transmission.  

“Currently, babies have to wait for six weeks before taking the pentavalent vaccine and we think that the spacing is too much and can easily be vulnerable to acquire the virus from the mother.” 

The Associate Professor made this known at a public lecture organised by the University of Ghana School of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health Sciences, on the topic: “Reflexivity and positionality in hepatitis B care and treatment in Ghana”. 

Prof Adjei, who is also the Executive Director of Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana, said a political will was needed to invest in primary prevention of hepatitis B, particularly prevention of mother to child transmission and to treat infected persons who were eligible for treatment.  

He said: “It costs only GH¢6 to save a child’s life from acquiring hepatitis B from an infected mother through birth dose. The most unfortunate part is that about 95 percent of these children who get infection in infancy and early childhood leads to chronic hepatitis B.”  

“We know the science, we have the tools, what remains is political will to get it done. If we explore global access pricing costs, Hepatitis medication for a month will cost GH¢36 only for treatment of infected persons,” Prof Adjei added. 

He advocated the inclusion of the treatment of hepatitis under the National Health Insurance (NHIS), indicating that it was even cheaper than managing someone with Hypertension or Diabetes for a month under the NHIS.  

The Executive Director said the burden of Hepatitis B was high in Ghana, particularly the northern part of the country and believed that accommodating the treatment under the NHIS would remove the financial barriers in accessing treatment. 

“Recent study conducted in 2022 suggest that we have a prevalence of about 8.49 per cent persons living with hepatitis B, however, there is a contextual variation, indicating that the northern part of the country has the higher disease burden than the southern part, Savanna is having the highest rate with about 22.7 per cent of the population living with hepatitis B.” 

He said Ghana could take lessons from Egypt, having a strong commitment to eliminating Hepatitis C and that Ghana could also do the same. 

Professor Adlaide Marian Ansah Ofei, Chairperson, Public Seminar Committee, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Ghana, said the public seminar formed part of activities of the School to showcase research work of the faculty, share knowledge and ideas as well as policy recommendations. 

Source: GNA 

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