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Ministry of Health to vaccinate children against hepatitis at birth

FILE PHOTO: Hepatitis vaccination

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Health Ministry has announced plans to start vaccinating newly born babies against Hepatitis B.

The move is aimed at reducing the number of adults who develop liver cirrhosis.

According to doctors, most adults with liver cirrhosis resulting from hepatitis develop it when they are young.

Uganda’s plan to introduce vaccination at birth is in line the WHO’s 2020 goal to reduce the prevalence of viral hepatitis on the African continent and calls for vaccination of up 50 percent of the baby population at birth.

According to the Health ministry, the new measure will also reduce prevalence of lung cancer in the country. The incidence of liver cancer stands at 12.2 percent.

Health Minister Dr. Jane Aceng announced the new move during the first African Hepatitis Summit that begun Tuesday at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

The summit has attracted delegates from 22 countries on the African continent. Currently, Uganda carries out routine immunization of hepatitis for children before they are three months old. The children get shots at 6, 10 and 14 weeks after birth.

Data from the Health Ministry shows that the prevalence of hepatitis B and C stand at 4.1 and 1.2 percent respectively.

The Ministry is also planning to avail free treatment for all persons diagnosed with Hepatitis C.  The program will be funded by the Egyptian government, which in the past has managed to vaccinate 60 million people against Hep C with free vaccines provided by Abbot Pharmaceuticals.

“We are happy that the government of Egypt has come to and has offered to treat all the persons with hepatitis C. We do not know how may people these may be but we are going to work hard to get this data, so that the people can get this free treatment,” she said.

Kenneth Kabagambe, the founding Executive Director of National Organisation of persons Living With Hepatitis B, says free treatment for hepatitis C will go along way in changing the lives of infected people.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that leads to irritation and swelling of the liver. Treatment for hepatitis C includes medicine to treat the symptoms of the disease and to cure infection.

Symptoms of Hepatitis C include; jaundice, bleeding easily, bruising easily, dark coloured urine and swelling of the legs.

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