• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

NGO calls for insurance coverage for treatment of Hepatitis in Nigeria

Nigerians pay lowest for generic hepatitis C medicines, among countries with highest cases

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s World Hepatitis Day, a public health expert and the Chief Executive officer of Center for Initiative and Development a non-governmental organization in Taraba state, Danjuma Philip Adda has called for the inclusion of treatment for Hepatitis into the National Health insurance scheme to enable  Nigerians to afford and have access to the testing, Vaccination, and treatment of the different levels of the disease.

Adda who made the call in an interview with BusinessDay correspondent in Jalingo the Taraba state capital North-East Nigeria also said the catastrophic cost for the treatment of Hepatitis in Nigeria has driven many people to poverty.

“My call is that the government needs to improve access by reducing the cost of treatment because the catastrophic cost for the treatment of Hepatitis has driven many people to poverty, the government can do more by providing insurance coverage in the National Health Insurance scheme for patients to afford the treatment”. He said

He noted that unlike the HIV treatment where the cost is covered by the National Health Insurance scheme, some treatment of Hepatitis is not covered by the scheme leaving the patient to bear the huge cost for the treatment.

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“The message for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is Hepatitis Free Future and also finding the missing millions. Over 325 million people are living with Hepatitis globally just about 10 per cent of these people know their status.

” In Nigeria is about 19 million and just less than 10 per cent of these 19 million people know that they are living with this disease that has the potential to kill them and even among these 10 per cent less than 5 per cent have access to treatment or diagnosis; the majority of them don’t have the ability to pay for their test or treatment because Nigeria doesn’t provide health insurance coverage for the treatment of Hepatitis unlike the HIV”. He stressed.

Adda further explained that it is most unfortunate that many people are living with Hepatitis without knowing their status, stressing that only hospital testing can provide an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

“What we usually tell people is that they should know their status by getting tested and go to a quality health care facility that provides quality treatment for those who need treatment because it is not everybody with Hepatitis B that needs treatment but for Hepatitis C if it’s confirmed you may need treatment and is curable”. He stated.

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Commenting on the Taraba state government performance in the fight against hepatitis in the state  Danjuma Adda noted that the government had done remarkably well three years ago being the first state in Nigeria to start a program and creating awareness about the disease but that very little have been done in the year 2020.

” I want to commend the Taraba state government as the first state that started hepatitis program in Nigeria three years ago but I don’t think anything has been done in the hepatitis circle in Taraba state this year.

When it comes to the prevalence of Hepatitis in Taraba state is very high unlike the National, Nationally Hepatitis B is 8.1percent, hepatitis C is 1.1percent but Taraba state seems to have a high prevalence of about 15 per cent for Hepatitis B and about 10 per cent for Hepatitis C, so you see this figure is quite alarming and the majority of them may not even know that they have the disease”. Adda noted.

He attributed the high number of Hepatitis cases in the state to some cultural practices and misinformation about the disease