HEPATITIS B: A Treatable yet Silent Killer Disease In Uganda


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Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is most commonly spread by exposure to infected bodily fluids. It is usually spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids infected with the virus enter the body of someone who is not infected.

Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer. Globally, approximately 290 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus and more than 800,000 people die each year from liver cancer caused by the HEP B virus.

According to the UPHIA 2016 report, the prevalence of hepatitis B among adults aged 15–64 stands at 4.1%. However, the prevalence among men is higher at 5.4% and women at 3.0%.

With the improved health facilities in Uganda and programmes to prevent and treat this virus, there are still a variety of societal factors, including beliefs and traditions, that have made this disease a silent serial killer in Uganda.

According to reports from the Ministry of Health, over 6% of the Ugandan population is chronically affected by hepatitis B and 1.5% by hepatitis C.  The northern region, which is Karamoja and West Nile, are the most affected areas and the prevalence is going up along the cattle corridor areas.

Hepatitis B has become a silent killer disease in Uganda because 90% of the affected people are asymptomatic. Abdominal swelling, yellowing of the eyes and vomiting of blood are the major signs of this deadly disease.

In 2013, the Ministry of Health created a technical working group to oversee the prevention of Hepatitis B. There has been the establishment of treatment centres all over the country; all regional hospitals and health centres IV’s carry out the treatment of hepatitis B.

Pregnant mothers are tested and in the event of one being positive, a Hepatitis B birth dose is administered to the infant within 24 hours after birth.

With the rise in hepatitis B prevalence in different parts of the country, reducing alcohol consumption, exercising daily for 30 minutes, getting vaccinated against HEP B, and maintaining a healthy weight are ways of living free from this serial killer.

Say thank you to your liver by knowing your hepatitis B status today and seeking treatment if found positive.

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