The Government of Uganda has been applauded in its efforts towards the fight against Hepatitis B. Over 23 Million adults and adolescents have been screened for the disease across the country while 17.6 million adults and adolescents have been successfully vaccinated against Hepatitis B, since the mass vaccination campaign was rolled out in 2015.
Senior Scientist in WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme, Dr. Philippa Easterbook commended Uganda’s progress in the fight against Hepatitis. “We have noted considerable progress in testing, vaccination and the growing awareness on Hepatitis in the country. This shows that as a country, you are on the right track” she said.
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by Hepatitis B virus. It can be acute and self-resolving or chronic. The Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is found in blood and bodily fluids. It can be transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, and blood, and it can pass from a mother to a newborn during delivery. Sharing needles and having unprotected sex increase the risk.
On behalf of WHO African Regional Office, Hepatitis Director, Dr. Lesi highlighted the fact that Uganda is the pioneer country in Africa to carry out mass vaccination against Hepatitis B among adults. “Uganda serves as a model on the global platform for both African countries and the world in its efforts to systematically screen over 50% of its population as well as successfully vaccinate adults against Hepatitis B” she said.
Dr. Lesi praised Uganda for embarking on the fight against Hepatitis way back in 2014 long before the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis 2016-2021 was developed. “The first shot of the Hepatitis B vaccine was taken by none other than President Museveni; the Parliament of Uganda has committed UGX 10 Billion shillings annually to the fight against Hepatitis which demonstrates the high political will towards the fight against Hepatitis B” she said amidst thunderous applauses from the audience.
According to the 2016 Uganda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA) Survey, prevalence of Hepatitis B infection among adults stands at 4.3% (5.6% among men and 3.1% among women). The survey indicates that Hepatitis B prevalence is highest in Northern region at 4.6% while lowest in the South West region at 0.8%.