Fassil Shiferaw, Meketew Letebo and Abate Bane
(Healio) — Ethiopia still lacks required partnerships and resource mobilization for an effective national health response to viral hepatitis, according to a report published in BMC Public Health.
“Viral hepatitis and its disease burden are getting little attention in Ethiopia and many low-income countries,” Fassil Shiferaw, at WHO-Ethiopia, and colleagues wrote. “To date, the response to the infections in Ethiopia is patchy, and the country lacks tools and systems necessary for an effective response at all levels.”
In Ethiopia, hepatitis B has an average prevalence of 10.8% and hepatitis C has a prevalence of 2%.
To examine the current level of response to hepatitis B and C in Ethiopia, Shiferaw and colleagues performed a cross-sectional qualitative study based on interviews with 21 individuals from health facilities, health offices, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory bodies and blood bank units. The researchers also reviewed policy and strategy documents, standards of practice and surveys as well as paid visits to pharmaceutical companies to determine the availability of antiviral drugs. They organized the analysis with the WHO global hepatitis response framework.
The researchers found that Ethiopia still lacks the required partnerships and resource mobilization for an effective national health response to viral hepatitis. Community awareness is poor. Besides mandatory medical checkups for work or travel, viral hepatitis screening services are not widely available. After patient diagnosis, health care providers often take no further action due to a lack of treatment guidelines and a lack of available drugs because of regulatory challenges. Further, the international community has not provided enough technical guidance or financial support.
“Thus, the country needs to formulate policy and strategies in the areas of disease surveillance, risk group identification and screening, implementation of the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine, and care and treatment,” the researchers wrote. “Improving availability of data on viral hepatitis, access to low-cost generic drugs and developing treatment guidelines are also critical. Leveraging the successful Health Extension Program for a hepatitis response, and exploring ways to learn from and integrate into the HIV/AIDS program could facilitate the sharing of resources and help improve cost-effectiveness. Above all, providing care and treatment for people infected with viral hepatitis is a moral, ethical and human rights issue that needs to be addressed promptly.” – by Will Offit
For full report Click HERE