Sylvester Chuks Nwokediuko
University of Nigeria, Nigeria
Dr Sylvester Chuks Nwokediuko is a senior lecturer in internal medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. He is also an honorary consultant physician and gastroenterologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Ituku/Ozalla. He has published over 35 papers in reputable international peer-reviewed medical journals.
About 2 billion people globally ( which represents one-third of the world population) have evidence of infection with Hepatitis B virus. Of these cases , approximately 400 million are chronically infected. In spite of the greater public health importance of Hepatitis B virus infection, it does not receive half of the attention HIV/AIDS receives from the international community. The burden of Hepatitis B virus infection is tremendous in resource-poor countries. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, there is lack of accurate statistics regarding the magnitude of this problem. However, projections from global surveys indicate that sub-Saharan Africa is a high prevalence region (Hepatitis B surface antigen seroprevalence of 8%). Numerous challenges face effective management of this scourge. An accurate knowledge of these problems is a rational first step towards proffering solutions. The knowledge base of the populace is far below what is required to mount an effective community-based control program. Similarly, many health care practitioners do not have adequate knowledge of this disease to enable them provide the necessary leadership in the effort to address the menace of this dreaded killer. Acute shortage of the needed, trained health personnel is another formidable challenge. These include physicians, gastroenterologists, hepatologists, pathologists, laboratory scientists and other allied medical staff. Lack of laboratory support, high cost of laboratory tests, lack of necessary drugs and prohibitive cost of the drugs are the most critical issues. Governments of African countries have not helped matters as the necessary political will to confront the problem is often not demonstrated. This dismal state of affairs can only be positively altered if the recommendations in the 2010 Global Hepatitis Policy are implemented by the countries concerned.