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Stakeholders learn more on viral hepatitis | 29 July 2020

Stakeholders learn more on viral hepatitis

To commemorate World Hepatitis Day yesterday, the Aids control programme of the department of health conducted a one-day workshop to equip organisations that work closely with vulnerable groups in society with additional knowledge and skills to better understand viral hepatitis.

The workshop attended by representatives from the Drug Utilisation Response Network Seychelles (DURNS), United for a purpose Brigade (UP Brigade) and from the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps), was held at the Ceps conference room, Orion Mall. The delegates are also the key frontline workers in the fight against hepatitis among vulnerable groups.

The communicable disease control unit (CDCU) of the department of health estimates that 1,255 people are currently living with viral hepatitis in the country. There are 120 (90 males/30 females) known hepatitis B cases, while 1,135 (962 males/173 females) are hepatitis C known.

There were fewer cases of hepatitis B detected in the first six months of 2020, with 14 cases, as compared to the first six months of 2019 when 23 cases were detected. For hepatitis C, the newly reported cases were 23 as compared to nine cases for the same six-month period for 2019.

Sabrina Mousbé, programme manager for HIV/Aids in the department of health and chairperson of the HIV/Aids Prevention Task Force (HAPTF), said most of the new cases of viral hepatitis are being detected in people on drugs, mostly among the age group of 19 to 35 years old.

She noted that the training will empower the delegates to better face the challenges associated with viral hepatitis when dealing with people on substance abuse suspected of being infected with hepatitis, including HIV/Aids and other related diseases.

Representing DURNS, Reominia Gilbert, who takes part in the outreach programmes to key population in the ghetto, said most of the people on drugs in the ghetto are keen and interested when it comes to learning about diseases affecting them, adding that they will always give their full cooperation.

World Hepatitis Day is observed annually across the globe on July 28. The theme for this year is ‘Hepatitis-free future’ with a strong focus to scale-up prevention, testing and treatment of hepatitis B, preventing mother to child transmission of hepatitis B and to cure hepatitis C.

Commemoration this year marks the end of the three-year campaign under the theme ‘Find the missing millions’ launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) in 2018 which emphasised that irrespective of gender, age group, ethnicity or geography, millions of people are living with the viral hepatitis without being aware they are infected. Most of the time, those living with viral hepatitis do not show any signs or symptoms.

Yesterday’s workshop was led by members of the HIV/Aids Prevention Task Force. Topics included presentations on viral hepatitis, health sector response to viral hepatitis, testing programme of viral hepatitis, treatment programme of viral hepatitis and the civil society’s response to viral hepatitis among others. The delegates also engaged in a plenary session and group work.

Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver commonly caused by a viral infection. There are other possible causes of hepatitis and these include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins and alcohol.

There are five types of viral infections of the liver that are classified as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B and C are the most common types of hepatitis in Seychelles.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen, containing the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors, tooth brushes, among other infected items, with an infected person increases your risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contacts as well as sharing razors, tooth brushes, among other infected item with an infected person.

 

Patrick Joubert

 

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