MPs Push Govt On Hepatitis B Virus Policy

Parliament has called for the development and implementation of a comprehensive Hepatitis B Virus policy.

The motion moved yesterday by Lyndah Timbigamba, the Kyenjojo Woman MP and endorsed by several other legislators, also calls on government to carry out massive sensitisation and vaccination drive campaigns for Hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) that affects the immune system and usually leads to inflammation and damage to the liver. HBV causes damage to the genetic material inside liver cells and also causes liver cancer. HBV is similar to HIV through transmission of direct blood to blood contact. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 240 million people worldwide have chronic or long-termliver infections. About 600 000 people die every year due to the acute or chronic consequences of hepatitis B.

HBV is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth, or from person to person in early childhood. As compared to HIV/AIDS, the Hepatitis B is also transmitted by pregnant mothers who have the virus to their unborn babies during pregnancy and at birth.

West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth Oboth reveals that about 30 percent of the residents of Tororo are suffering from Hepatitis B yet it is very expensive to treat. In private clinics, a complete dose of Hepatitis B vaccine is sold at 80,000 shillings. Oboth wants the policy to cover all forms of Hepatitis from A to E.

It should be noted that not everyone infected with HBV experiences symptoms of acute hepatitis; between 30 and 40 percent of people infected with the virus do not experience any noticeable symptoms. When they occur they usually do so within 4-6 weeks after being infected and can last for several months before the patient finally dies.

During the recruitment of soldiers last month, Ajuri County MP Hamson Obua told Parliament that 60 percent of recruits in his area were found to have Hepatitis B.

Kampala Woman MP Nabilah Naggayi also cited examples of girls who were taken abroad for employment only to be found with Hepatitis yet when they left the country after private clinics had given them positive results.

Currently only new born babies receive Hepatitis B vaccination after birth as a component in the immunization schedule.

Mbarara Municipality MP Dr Medard Bitekyerezo is of the view that government should acquire vaccines not only for adults but people at risk such as Doctors, nurses and medical laboratory technicians.

A full report from government on the status of Hepatitis B in the country is expected on the floor of Parliament in February 2014 when the house resumes business.

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