At least 166 people got free Hepatitis B tests and vaccination at a subsidised cost during The Hepatitis Awareness and screening Drive at the Monitor Publications Ltd offices in Namuwongo last Friday.
The programme was organised by the National Organisation for people living with Hepatitis B (NOFLH) in Partnership with Monitor Publications and Medilinks Labs and Surgicals Limited (MLS L).
Among the 166 people who tested for Hepatitis B, 10 people tested positive, a number the NOFLH said is big and needs immediate attention from all stakeholders in the country.
“These statistics imply that Hepatitis B is prevailing at a very high rate because 10 is such a big number compared to the number of people who tested,” Mr Kenneth Kabagambe, NOFLH sales Agent said.
Why the high numbers?
Mr Kabagambe attributed the high prevalence to the lack of awareness among the people and called upon government to speed up the process of coming up with a strategy and a policy on Hepatitis B.
“Majority of the people who die of Hepatitis do not know that they have it until that end stage after the effects can’t be reversed. That’s why we are motivated to come on board and raise awareness about Hepatitis B through free scanning and vaccination at a subsidized cost.”
He said lack of awareness has also posed a challenge of stigma among the victims by their families and relatives who isolate them and at times are locked up in their rooms where they are fed separately.
Mr Didacus Okoth, the brand manager at Monitor, said the exercise will be conducted in three phases since Hepatitis B vaccination is also done in three phases for the three doses.
“This one is a continuous program that will require people who have had vaccination to come for the second dose in August when we shall be holding another phase and the third phase will be in January next year since the third dose is taken after four months,” Mr Okoth said.
He said the second dose for Hepatitis B comes exactly one month after the first one while the third is taken four months after the second.