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Vol. 8 No. 1

HEPATITIS B IN AFRICA: THE CHALLENGES IN CONTROLLING THE SCOURGE

June 2016

— Lesi, OA

Abstract

For far too long, viral hepatitis has been neglected by the international community, policy makers, governments, health care providers and the public. Although the virus was discovered over 50 years ago and an effective vaccine has been available for more than 20 years, the complications of chronic hepatitis B infection are still the cause of significant illness and death in Africa. Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver. It can cause both acute and chronic disease such as liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Globally, hepatitis B affects 240 million people. Each year an estimated 650,000 people die from hepatitis B related liver disease or liver cancer. In Africa, there are 75 million people affected by the virus. This ranges from about 13.6% of the population in Nigeria to 11% in Senegal and 5.7% in Ethiopia. In The Gambia, hepatitis B related liver cancer is the most common cancer among men and the third most common
in women.

A multi-faceted approach is needed to address the challenges that have allowed this virus to continue unabated in African communities decades after it has been controlled in Western populations.

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The Nigerian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepathology, is a quarterly publication of the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria (SOGHIN), which publishes original research on the biology and diseases of the Gut, Liver, Pancreas, Peritoneum and Spleen both in humans and experimental animal models.

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