By Festus Fifen.
As part of the social stabilization mandate which is one of the short term components of the Buhari Plan to rebuild the North eastern part of the country which have been ravaged over the years by insurgency, the Presidential committee on North East Initiative have commenced a week long sensitization, awareness creation, screening and vaccination campaign for Viral Hepatitis Control in internally displaced person camp and host communities in Yobe state aimed at controlling the spread of the deadly disease.
Speaking during the training of health workers in Damaturu the Yobe state capital organized in collaboration with the Yobe State Primary Healthcare Management Board, Federal Ministry of Health, Yakubu Gowon Centre, Moriah Trust Ltd and Philips Pharmaceuticals, Program Manager of PCNI in Borno and Yobe State Mr. Pindar Kyari said the need to train health workers that will be deployed to the field is part of the rapid health deployment strategy of the committee adding that it became imperative because they (the health workers) are the first set to come in physical contact with the people.
In his words, “our concern is that we start with you the healthcare workers because you are the people moving into those camps and settlements and are the ones exposed to these threats of the disease and we feel that if you really want to fight these disease you must be vaccinated against it so that you dont end up being infected thereby defeating our purpose.”
Mr. Kyari who stated that Yobe state is being used as the pilot state in the northeast added that the sensitization and awareness and control Programme will in the long run cover all areas of public healthcare and not limited to Viral hepatitis.
” it is going to be a gradual buildup, it is our aim and our goal that in the next 5 to 10 years we dont want to have viral hepatitis in Yobe, the north east and Nigeria in general”
In her goodwill message, the Executive Secretary Yobe State Primary Healthcare Management Board Dr. Hauwa Goni said the initiative of screening and vaccination against HBV and HCV in the state is a good attempt to evaluate and take right direction towards prevention, control and subsequent elimination of the menace of the infection on Nigeria’s Population
On how to overcome the challenges of communication gap that has led to refusal to take vaccines by some individuals which is one of the major issues bedeviling the northern part Nigeria Dr. Goni said the state has health promotion unit that is directly under the primary healthcare Board which is a strong unit that works with all the 17 Local Government Areas in the state, including Traditional and religious leaders in awareness creation and sensitization on the need to be vaccinated for viral and other diseases.
She therefore urged the health workers to emphasize the need to stay away from all risky health practices like sharing of sharp objects, unsafe sex, careless handling of. Look and blood products that could increase the prevalent rate of HBV and HCV among the people
Dr. omede Ogu of the Federal Ministry of Health while urging the health workers to be very vigilant advised that early detection and prevention remains the best option emphasizing the effect of wrong diagnosis which has remain one of the major challenges of HBV and HCV as the disease does not have any special symptom other than that of fever ,
Dr. Ogu who said stated that about 20 million Nigerians are carriers of the deadly virus made it clear that the awareness for viral hepatitis is still very low compared to HIV/ AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
Representative of the Yakubu Gowon Centre Mr. David Nwendu in his goodwill message said the centre has taken up the responsibility of awareness creation concerning the control of viral hepatitis Round the country.
” His excellency Dr. Yakubu Gowon has thrown his weight behind creating awareness for viral hepatitis, he did it with guinea worm and it was eradicated from this country and it is the same force he is applying. he has been appointed as a goodwill ambassador for Viral Hepatitis control by the Federal Ministry of Health so he is going around trying to advocate for money to be put into the control of the Virus.” He said.
The Programme is targeted at men, women and children especially those in internally displaced persons camp and host communities.
Participants cuts across public health workers in the state, which includes laboratory scientist, nurses health record officers and other stakeholder in the health sector.