As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the 2014 World Hepatitis Day, a medical doctor and former Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Edo State chapter, Dr. Philip Ugbodaga, has said that about 20 million Nigerians are currently battling hepatitis B and C. Ugbodaga, who disclosed this on Monday at the 2014 World Hepatitis Day campaign organised by The Clem Agba Foundation in Benin, explained that the figure represented 12 per cent of the nation’s total population. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon, however, said the disease, which was deadlier than HIV/AIDS, with more than 500 million people infected globally, remained unknown to many Nigerians. The expert, who is also a volunteer of TGAF, said that more than 350 million people were infected globally with hepatitis B while more than 150 million people were infected with hepatitis C. “In Nigeria, up to eight per cent of our population are infected with hepatitis B and up to four per cent are infected with hepatitis C, hence the need to create awareness on the causative organism of this disease and to let people know about it and how to prevent the
disease,” Ugbodaga said. He said the theme for the 2014 World Hepatitis Day, ‘Think Again’, would create a platform for Nigerians to reflect again about the millions of people who had lost their lives to the disease. He said, “Let us think about people who do not know what causes Hepatitis and let us think again about what we need to do to ensure that our people get information on the killer disease.” Hepatitis, a liver disease, results from an infection with any of at least five distinct viruses, with the most common identified as Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV). The disease could be spread through transfusion of infected blood, unsterilised equipment, sexual intercourse and from mother to infants during pregnancy and at childbirth. Complications include serious liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer and even death.