Ministry of Health alarmed by the high prevalence of hepatitis disease

Ministry of Health alarmed by the high prevalence of hepatitis disease

The National Ministry of Health has raised an alarm over increased cases of both chronic and acute viral hepatitis.

The World Health Organisation 2019 finding established that Viral hepatitis is a global public health concern with an estimated 58 million people being infected.

Data from the ministry of health also indicates that there are an estimated 2,833 cases of Hepatitis E from Bentiu’s Internally Displaced Person Camp (IDP). The report dates back to 2019.

In response to comments made by the panel during the commemoration of World Hepatitis Day at Juba Teaching Hospital on Thursday, the Director-General for Preventive Health Services at the National Health Ministry, Dr John Rumunu, said that while he agrees that the country lacks information on chronic hepatitis, acute viral hepatitis has been prevalent in Bentiu’s IDP camp.

Rumunu clarified that the ministry typically reports cases per epidemical week, with data available through week 25.

 “By epidemical week 25, the records showed that there were 53 cases of hepatitis E from 2019 to 2021. The ministry recorded 24 death cases of hepatitis E and that gives case fatality rate of about one per cent and both males and female are affected and female is 46 per cent,” he explained. 

He believes that with the data, the ministry has the ground to protect people in the country.

Over 95 per cent of deaths from viral hepatitis are caused by chronic infections caused by hepatitis B and C infections. Although there is a technology for diagnosing, treating, and preventing viral hepatitis, the services are typically unavailable to communities and occasionally limited to centralised or specialised hospitals.

Rumunu said the ministry of health and WHO are working hand in hand to bring hepatitis care closer to the primary health facilities and communities so that people can have better access to treatment and care no matter what type of hepatitis they have.

He said the ministry of health is committed to achieving hepatitis elimination by 2020 and that they also heeded the call by WHO to achieve specific targets on reducing new infections of hepatitis B and C

“We are committed to reducing hepatitis-related deaths from liver cirrhosis and cancer by 65 per cent, and we are committed to ensuring that at least 90 per cent of people with hepatitis B and C viruses are diagnosed and at least 80 per cent of those eligible receive appropriate treatment,” he said.

He stated that the ministry would collaborate with the line ministries in charge of interventions in water, sanitation, and hygiene to make sure that people in IDP camps have access to clean drinking water and they will continue with the hepatitis E vaccination program in areas where the disease is on the rise.

However, Dr. Anthony Lupai, Medical Director at the Juba Teaching Hospital, noted that managing hepatitis disease is expensive.

“[It is] expensive from the diagnosis point of view. Tools are needed in providing drugs, and it is also expensive to bring the vaccine to the person because of all that needs money, “said Lupai.

South Sudan has vaccinated over 25,000 to control the outbreak of hepatitis E disease, which is particularly deadly to pregnant women.

Due to a massive vaccination campaign at the state’s high-risk settlements and displacement camps, health officials in Unity State claim that the number of cases of contagious Hepatitis E disease has decreased.

Several internally displaced person camps in the state have undergone a massive hepatitis E vaccination campaign by Medicines Sans Frontiers and the Ministry of Health.