Three million Ugandans have Hepetitis B - report

Friday September 16 2011

By Sheila Naturinda

At least 10 per cent of Ugandans are currently suffering from the deadly Hepatitis B, and in urgent need of antiretrovirals for treatment, MPs have been told.

Hepatitis B, caused by a virus called Hep B, is more infectious than HIV/Aids although both diseases are transmitted in similar manner.

Dr Christine Ondoa, the Minister of Health, said Hepatitis, a viral infection, has become an endemic disease and the highest burden has been registered in Northern Uganda with 20 -25 per cent of the whole population.

She also told MPs on Wednesday that infections have been recorded in West Nile, North, Central and Southwestern regions.

Parliament also was told that 18 people have tested positive in Kitgum District, three died, while two are undergoing treatment in the referral hospital, and in Lira District, eight have been confirmed infected with the disease, among whom four have since died.

“We don’t have specific treatment for Hepatitis B but currently we are using ARVs and trials are ongoing at Mulago Hospital, while much concentration is in Lamwo and Kitgum districts,” Ms Ondoa said. Parliament also heard that government can’t afford vaccinations throughout the country because each vaccine costs Shs80,000 and every person needs three vaccines for proper prevention.

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Ms Ondoa advised people to “keep the zip up, and have as few sexual contacts as possible.” In a bid to combat the infection, the Ministry of Health is carrying out sentisation campaigns across the country and boarders, screening, and routine immunisation.

snaturinda@ug.nationmedia.com

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