January 1, 2015

Hepatitis B Patients Call for Concerted Govt Effort Against Disease

People living with Hepatitis B virus in Uganda are demanding that Parliament pass relevant policies to help in the fight of the deadly disease.

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The call was made by Keneth Kabagambe, the Executive Director of the National Organization for People Living with Hepatitis B.

Kabagambe who says his organization now has over 2000 members from across the country was speaking to Uganda Radio Network in Kasese town on Tuesday Morning.

He said that the statistics at their disposal indicate that the Hepatitis B virus prevalence rate in the country is standing at 10%. He says it is worse in Northern Uganda where most districts stand and 14%.

Statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that Hepatitis B kills 1.4m people annually worldwide. This is higher than HIV which claims 100,000 people.

Fatal cases of Hepatitis B have been reported in many parts of the country. In Kasese district, high prevalence has been reported in Kilembe and Rukoki sub-counties.

A number of organizations including Mama Centenary Community Support Program have been carrying out community outreaches to provide free testing services to the people around Kasese Municipality.

However, private clinics in Kasese charge for testing between UGX 20,000 to UGX 30,000 depending on the facility.

Kabagambe says that there are many health facilities that are involved in treatment of Hepatitis B around the country but wondered whether they are giving the right medication because of lack of expertise.

He says that currently Uganda has Hepatitis B specialists who are based Mulago National Referral Hospital and Nakasero Hospital.

He adds that although some physicians in hospitals are capable of handling the cases, there is need for the Ministry of Health to come up with guidelines for all health facilities to curb the spread of the virus.

In Kasese district, the District Health Officer Dr. Peter Mukobi has made radio announcements warning health facilities and nongovernmental organizations against carrying out Hepatitis B testing without the consent of his office.

Dr. Mukobi who confirms the high prevalence of the virus in the district says that most health facilities and NGOs only test patients but do not provide further assistance and guidance for those found positive.

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