Health

How hepatitis became a hidden epidemic in Africa

Five strains of viral hepatitis (A, B, C, D and E) affect 400 million people Worldwide. Hepatitis B and C are the most fatal; In Infection Blood transfusions are mainly transmitted through unsafe medical practices or the use of injection medication.

International awareness is as follows Mobilization of worker Condemn the excessive prices of new drugs that can treat hepatitis C Solvadi eg, a tablet worth US $ 1,000.

Viral hepatitis is a global epidemic with distinct regional patterns. In Europe, hepatitis C is mostly Injection is associated with drugs But on the African continent, This is a generalized epidemic And a major public health issue.

In Both 2010 and 2014The World Health Organization (WHO) called for action on diseases and has produced since. Test guidelines For Hepatitis B and C.

The case of viral hepatitis highlights the major challenges faced by health systems in Africa in relation to infection, prevention, and access to treatment and social and economic equity.

A deadly pandemic

it is estimated 100 million people are affected by chronic hepatitis B in Africa, most of whom are unaware that they have an infection; 19 million adults have Hepatitis C.

Despite the lack of accurate epidemiological data at the national level, various estimates almost precipitated hepatitis B. 8-10% population in many countries. It is a generalized epidemic, which is not limited to specific segments of the population or high-risk groups.

This epidemic is even more worrisome when we consider how difficult it is to treat – only 1% of older carriers can access treatment. When patients test positive for hepatitis, they undergo a series of biological and molecular tests, which are unacceptably expensive in Africa at this time.

Costs between € 200 and € 400 are a complete pre-medical evaluation for hepatitis B or C in Cameroon and around € 210 for evaluation for hepatitis B Burkina Faso.

Pharmaceuticals, M Timon Bazaar, Chad.
Abdulaye Barry / MSF

After these tests, very few patients make it to antiretroviral treatment. Those available to HIV patients, but not to those affected by Hepatitis B. In case of Hepatitis C, an injection Pegylated Interferon Côte d’Ivoire or Cameroon can cost as much as € 230, and patients require a minimum of 46 injections.

If a hepatitis patient cannot afford regular treatment, they are hospitalized, affecting the entire family emotionally and financially. People who die of diseases represent the workforce in many countries. As in the early years of AIDS, the future of Africa is affected by these infections.

History of neglect

And just as the AIDS epidemic Adopted colonial violence And weakened health system, so makes hepatitis viral.

In Cameroon, the hepatitis C virus was transmitted through late colonial medical campaigns. 1950s to 1960s. In Ebola, it is associated with intravenous treatment of malaria that older people today received when they were young; Hepatitis C therefore affects more than 50% of people over the age of 50 in some areas.

Group shot of seven Europeans at the opening of the first Mengo Hospital, Uganda in 1897.
Welcome

Transmission of hepatitis C may not be acute today, But some medical procedures risk infection. In Cameroon, people who pass Repeated blood transfusion poses a greater risk Exposed in the workplace, as health workers, as HCV contracts.

Viral hepatitis also highlights global health priorities. Hepatitis B vaccines arrive late in African continent: although hepatitis B and liver cancer limits were detected late 1970s in Senegal And prompted the development of a vaccine, until the mid-1990s the manufacture of this vaccine was not accessible in Africa. Even today, the population is not fully covered Vaccination.

The HIV epidemic in the 1980s obscured the extent of hepatitis. Today, free antiretroviral drugs are provided through whose support Global Fund HIV, TB and malaria are considered inappropriate in people affected by hepatitis.

Science of people

In the fight against hepatitis, many lessons can be drawn from HIV, as well as from the recent Ebola outbreak.

Large-scale international interventions cannot just target access to medicines and biomedical interventions. The chances of living Ebola were greatly increased when patients could use basic measures, including intensive care and rehydration.

And instead of trying to change people’s behavior, history shows that it is prudent to understand the social, economic and political context of the epidemic and to rely on local knowledge and experience. In his condition Book on ebola, Anthropologist Paul Richards claims that the epidemic ended not only due to international support, but also thanks to community actions despite the lack of effective treatment.

Communities responded, and they produced their science of disease. For example, he used techniques to protect himself by using plastic bags or other materials while going with his sick loved ones.

The Freetown Ebola burial team carefully drops the corpse of a small child into his grave.
Simon Davis / DFID, CC BY-SA

Today, in places like Cameroon, many physicians, patients and families have similarly developed ways to cope with hepatitis, jaundice, or liver pathology. Their insight and experience should be at the heart of future policies.

Many professionals downgraded Lack of universal protection The risk of hepatitis transmission and infection in hospitals is high. Health workers are not properly vaccinated, and they lack critical equipment such as gloves and sterilizing materials.

Another effective way to prevent transmission is to get vaccinated for hepatitis at birth rather than starting at six weeks.

There is also an urgent need to address pain management and palliative care as the complications of hepatitis (liver cancer and cirrhosis) can be very debilitating and inhumane, often leading to death.

urgent action

Across the African continent, hepatitis today does not receive the same attention from NGOs and civil society as HIV did in the 2000s.

But other forms of mobilization are emerging among practitioners, as the National Professional Associations combine scientific and medical work and advocate their respective governments. Continued pan-african cooperation.

Democratic Republic of Congo. The young are vaccinated to prevent measles, hepatitis and whooping cough.
Msf

Physicians from Africa and Europe are also joining forces through scientific and medical cooperation and seeking action to fight these unacceptable Global inequalities. Their insights should be combined with strong social support for patients and their families.

Viral hepatitis response requires immediate infrastructure intervention to ensure access to clean water, hospital hygiene, and blood safety.

WHO Regional Committee for Africa Promotes A public health approach that includes vaccination at birth, integration of testing services, and links to care.

If providing drugs is a priority, it is also mandatory to avoid catastrophic health expenses and national projects for universal health coverage include clinical trials, treatments and follow-up tests.



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