Today South Sudan launched the first ever National Strategic Plan on Viral Hepatitis and National treatment and care guidelines for Hepatitis in South Sudan.
Hepatitis silently harms and kills thousands of Africans every year. Of the 71 million Africans with chronic viral hepatitis, 300 people die daily from liver cancer and other complications related to hepatitis B and C infections.
“Hepatitis is a public health threat in South Sudan. Hepatitis B comprises over 80% of the hepatitis burden”, said the Honorable Minister of Health, Elizabeth Acuei Yol. “Thanks to WHO and other partners, who are in this fight with us”. “This is an important plan to fight back against the disease. We must make sure our people have access to the education, prevention and treatment services they need.”
The strategic plan is for halting hepatitis transmission while ensuring access to safe, affordable and effective prevention, care and treatment services towards elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat in South Sudan by 2030.
Hepatitis infection is the most common infection in the first month of life, and this can be prevented with hepatitis B birth-dose vaccination in the first 24 hours of life, a pathway to achieving 90% coverage of Hepatitis in the country, to prevent new infections and deaths from liver cancer by 2035.
As part of the strategic plan, the Ministry of Health has developed standardized protocols for practitioners to ensure access to diagnostic and treatment services for the population.
On 28 July 2020, the world celebrated the World Hepatitis Day with a theme “Hepatitis Free Future” highlighting the importance of preventing mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B and scaling-up prevention, testing and treatment to control hepatitis B and cure hepatitis C. Celebration this year was different due to COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the nation and the world at large.
“As we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of the plan to prevent transmission of the virus and increase the number of people who are able to access treatment and cure is vital to prevent the risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19 for those with hepatitis related complications”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan.
WHO is committed to support the Ministry of Health and partners to enhance public health efforts, including, preventive services and the early detection to treat and cure existing infections and curb the onward transmission of the virus.
Source: World Health Organization