Uasin Gishu Doctor Calls for Hepatitis Vaccination at Birth

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BY Isah Asesa

Health experts in the country have petitioned the government through the ministry of Health to ensure that new born babies are vaccinated against Hepatitis at birth.

Uasin Gishu County Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno (right) shares a word with Kemri Deputy Director General Prof Maritim Songok during the World Hepatis Day in Eldoret Day. Isah Asesa

According to the experts, this is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that new born babies be vaccinated for Hepatitis within 24-hours of birth to avoid contracting the infection.

“The Kenyan government launched the Hepatitis vaccines for babies 17 years ago but they can only get the vaccination after six weeks, there is however need to have them get vaccinated at birth so that we reduce its spread,” said Dr Some Fatuma Faraj Jebet, a Physician practicing in Eldoret Kenya.

She spoke on Saturday at the Uasin Gishu County headquarters in Eldoret Kenya during celebrations to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day that is celebrated annually on 28 July.

According to Dr Faraj, millions of people who are infected by Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C lose their lives since they don’t go for diagnosis early enough.

“Over 325 million people across the globe are infected with Hepatitis and another 290 million do not know that they are infected with the disease thus spreading it to their contacts making it a major health concern a clear indication that there is need for vaccination at an early age,” added Dr Faraj.

She raised concern that over 3.6 million Kenyans have been infected by Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C yet they have no idea.On marking the World Hepatitis Day 2019, WHO has called on all countries to “Invest in eliminating hepatitis” through costing, budgeting and financing of elimination services within their universal health coverage plans.

While there has been broad support among WHO Member States in adopting the WHO hepatitis elimination strategy, with 124 out of 194 countries developing hepatitis plans, over 40 per cent of country plans lack

Participants who took part in this year’s World Hepatitis Day in Eldoret Day. Isah Ases

budget lines to support elimination efforts.

Uasin Gishu County Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno who presided over the event said that the regional government had partnered with Kenya Medical Research Institute and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital to conduct a free two-week medical camp for expectant mothers under antenatal care.

All mothers who are antenatal care should join members of the public and get tested then vaccinated for Hepatitis B. The exercise will be free of charge. And since WHO has set a target of eradicating Hepatitis by 2030. This help us end liver cancer and save millions of lives,” said Mr Chemno.

He also petitioned the National Government to include Hepatitis in the Universal Healthcare so that all those battling it can be treated free of charge.

“I will petition Kemri to engage the Senate and National Assembly committees on Health to put in place a budget to help fight this epidemic because the government has the responsibility of ensuring the health of its people,” explained Mr Chemno.

Others present at the event included the area acting Health Executive Samuel Yego, Kemri Deputy Director General Prof Maritim Songok and Dr Philip Cheptinga from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital among others.

In December 2018, health officials raised the red flag on the spread of Hepatitis B in the North Rift Kenya region.The officials called on the national government to help contain the disease that has claimed several lives in Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo.

The viral disease that spreads through body fluids is said to be steadily spreading in the region. Expensive Hepatitis B vaccine, according to health experts, is derailing efforts to curb the spread of the disease and has also exposed the counties’ lack of adequate resources to contain outbreaks.

A man gets tested for the Hepatitis B virus during this year’s World Hepatitis Day in Eldoret Day.

 

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