The Nasarawa State Government has set the year 2024 as its target for the elimination of Hepatitis C in the State.
This was disclosed via a statement from the State Ministry of Health to mark the 2021 World Hepatitis Day signed by the Commissioner, Pharmacist Ahmed Baba Yahaya.
In the statement which was tagged “Hepatitis Can’t Wait”, the Honourable Commissioner said that the effort to eliminate the disease is in line with the resolve of the administration of Engineer Abdullahi Sule to prioritize the health needs of the citizens of Nasarawa which is also in line with the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS).
The Commissioner also went ahead to state some of the actions taken by the State Government since February 2020 to address the statewide burden of viral hepatitis.
Some of this actions described as ‘bold steps’ by the Health Commissioner include: a five-year strategic plan is designed to facilitate screening for over 2.4m persons and treatment of over 124,000 persons by 2024.
Others as provided in the statement include: “The inauguration of a Viral Hepatitis Technical Working Group to ensure the proper planning and execution of the Hepatitis C Elimination.
“The roll out of the viral hepatitis elimination program using a phased approach with micro-elimination amongst the PLHIVs being prioritized.
“The allocation of an initial N40m as initial seed funds in 2020 to show evidence of Government commitment and the subsequent allocation of N70M in 2021 to advance the implementation of the elimination program.”
The Honourable Commissioner also listed some of the successes that the efforts of the State Government has recorded as follows:
“The TWG, under my leadership began implementation of the elimination program in 2020 and were able to record remarkable milestones that includes:
Facilitated training for 97 HCWs across 20 health facilities on viral hepatitis management.
“Designed the M&E framework, reporting tools, and instituted a routine reporting system for timely and accurate data collection.
“Successful integration of Hepatitis C screening services across the ART sites.
“Activation of free Hepatitis C screening services in HIV clinics across 13 secondary healthcare facilities.
“Utilized Government funding to procure an initial batch of 5,000 Hepatitis C Rapid Test Kits (RTKs).
“Secured donation of 1,000 Hepatitis C RTKs and 650 HBV RTKs from Healthline pharmaceuticals during the 2020 World Hepatitis Day celebrations.
“In 2021, the Nasarawa State Viral Hepatitis Elimination TWG leveraging on the momentum garnered from initial implementation efforts moved swiftly to advance the program with the respective TWG sub-committees working hard to ensure the success of the elimination program even in the face of COVID-19 and limited resources.”
Other advancements made so far in 2021 across various thematic areas according to the statement includes:
“Release of N10M and subsequent procurement of Hepatitis C screening kits, viral load, and treatment commodities.
“Conducting screenings of over 8000 PLHIVs with over 1200 sero-positives and sero-positivity rate of 14.8% realized.
“Rolled out linkage to free Hepatitis C diagnostics and treatment of waitlisted sero-positives in 6 facilities with over 200 viral load tests conducted and vireamic patients linked to treatment.
“The State is also on track to achieve micro-eliminate viral hepatitis C amongst PLHIVs in 2 facilities (GH Keana and GH Awe).
“Planned risk-assessment study to ascertain the key drivers of the high Hepatitis C burden in the State.
“Beyond, the gains made in the area of viral hepatitis, the State Government has further recorded wins in the area of effectively optimizing the concept of programs integration by leveraging on the lucrative HIV program and infrastructure to drive the uptake of HCV services.
“The State Primary Healthcare Development Agency is currently working with Clinton Health Access Initiative on the HBV-BD study which is aimed at demonstrating the tenets of the WHO HBV PMTCT Guidelines which was launched this day last year to ensure improved birth-dose vaccine coverage amongst other HBV PMTCT interventions in preventing mother to child transmission.
“The theme for this year’s World Hepatitis Day is ‘Hepatitis can’t wait’ and the ongoing interventions in the State clearly positions Nasarawa as the flagship viral hepatitis elimination state in-country with the potential of catalyzing a robust National Viral hepatitis Elimination response.”
The statement concluded by saying that the Nasarawa State Government remains determined and committed to significantly reducing the burden of Hepatitis C through its various efforts including collaboration with partners, continuous monitoring and evaluation of ongoing projects and programs amongst others.