By Waswa Tenywa

Uganda has today joined the entire world to commemorate the world Hepatitis day which is commemorated every 28 of every year with a call to Ugandans mostly men to endeavor testing for Hepatitis B.

Addressing the media today at the ministry of health headquarters in Kampala, the minister of state for health Dr. Sarah Opendi revealed that among men the prevalence stands at 5.6% and women stands at 3.1 %.the minister said the disease is caused by sharing needles and having unprotected sex with infected partners.

According to the minister, the survey indicates that Hepatitis B prevalence is highest in the Northern region at 4.6% while in North East it stands at 4.4% and 3.8% in west Nile region with 0.8% in south western region adding that 9 out of every 10 people across the country doesn’t know their status.

Opendi said under their intention to vaccinate over 17.6 million Ugandans across the country, they have provided the vaccination in about 13 districts in Bugishu and still moving in four districts in Buganda as they plan for the western part of the country which they haven’t started.

‘’In the last Financial Year, the vaccination exercise started in Busoga region covering a total of 12 districts (Namutumba, Luuka, Iganga, Kaliro, Mayuge, Namayingo, Kamuli, Buyende, Busia, Jinja, Bugiri). Screening and vaccination is still ongoing in this region. This FY 18/19, roll out has been planned for 14 districts of Bugisu, Bukedi and Sebei sub regions (Budaka, Bududa, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Butaleja, Kapchorwa, Kibuku, Manafwa, Mbale, Pallisa, Kwen, Sironko, Namisindwa, Butebo), and selected districts of central region and western Uganda including Buvuma, Butambala, Mubende and Masindi districts.We want Uganda to be Hepatitis B free by 2030 and we intend to vaccinate 17.6million people across the country as we are moving in the different regions with the vaccination campaign, we have reached West Nile, Acholi and now in Busoga region winding up to go to Mbale,’’ said Opendi.

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by Hepatitis B virus. It can be acute and self-resolving, or it can be chronic. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is found in blood and bodily fluids. It can be transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, and blood, and it can pass from a mother to a newborn during delivery. Sharing needles and having unprotected sex increase the risk. Most infections occur during infancy or childhood. They are rarely diagnosed, as there may be few obvious symptoms.

‘Because of the high prevalence and proximity to Northern Uganda, Teso Sub Region was included in Phase One making a total of 39 districts. Note that some new districts came up which include Omoro and Pakwach but were already catered for.

The 39 districts include; Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Maracha, Moyo, Nebbi, Yumbe, Zombo, Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Nwoya, Pader, Alebtong, Amolatar, Apac, Dokolo, Lira, Kole, Otuke, Oyam, Abim, Amudat, Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Napak, Tororo, Kumi, Ngora, Katakwi, Amuria, Bukedea, Soroti, Serere and Kaberamaido.

Testing and vaccination in the 41 districts of Northern, West Nile, Karmoja and Teso sub regions have been successfully concluded,’’ said minister Opendi.

Opendi appealed to the locals leaders to enforce the ministry of health directive stopping all private health camps across the country to save the country from bad medicines.