The Head of the Division of Hepatology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa, Prof. Wendy Spearman, has said Hepatitis B is vaccine-preventable, and Hepatitis C is now curable.
The expert spoke at a virtual media roundtable event organised by a medical devices and health care firm, Abbott to discuss the prevalence and impact of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in sub-Saharan Africa.
The objective of the round table, according to a statement on Wednesday was to raise awareness around a disease that affects over 70 million people in Africa alone, resulting in the disease being widely regarded as Africa’s silent killer.
Spearman said, “The burden of disease due to viral hepatitis and its complications of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is underestimated. Hepatitis B is vaccine-preventable, and Hepatitis C is now curable.
“We need the political will to recognise viral hepatitis as a health priority and to set national elimination targets with dedicated funding to implement national viral hepatitis action plans. Importantly there must be universal access to affordable diagnostics and therapeutics.”
Also, the Medical Director for Abbott’s rapid diagnostic business in Africa, Dr. Kuku Appiah, stressed the importance of early screening in the fight against hepatitis
He said, “Early screening followed by adequate treatment is paramount for better health outcomes for patients and more effort must be deployed in that regard.
“At Abbott, we have been partnering with governments and leading hepatitis programmes across Africa to support surveillance programmes and provide reliable and affordable rapid diagnostic solutions to help governments meet their health targets for hepatitis, among other diseases.”