Other killer diseases in South Sudan:
Malaria, Diarrhoea, pneumonia and HIV/AIDs.
The Ministry of Health has launched a new plan aimed at eliminating viral hepatitis infections in South Sudan.
More than 1 million people are believed to be living with Hepatitis B and C in the country.
Symptoms are variable and include yellowing of the eyes (Jaundice), abdominal pain and dark urine. Some people, particularly children, don’t experience any symptoms. In chronic cases, liver failure, cancer or scarring can occur.
According to Mayo Clinic:
Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids. It does not spread by sneezing or coughing.
Common ways that HBV can spread are:
- Sexual contact. You may get hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected. The virus can pass to you if the person’s blood, saliva, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body.
- Sharing of needles. HBV easily spreads through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing IV drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of hepatitis B.
- Accidental needle sticks. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood.
- Mother to child. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus to their babies during childbirth. However, the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected in almost all cases. Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given as three or four injections over six months. You can’t get hepatitis B from the vaccine.
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:
- Children and adolescents not vaccinated at birth
- Those who work or live in a center for people who are developmentally disabled
- People who live with someone who has hepatitis B
- Health care workers, emergency workers and other people who come into contact with blood
- Anyone who has a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV
- Men who have sex with men
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- Sexual partners of someone who has hepatitis B
- People who inject illegal drugs or share needles and syringes
- People with chronic liver disease
- People with end-stage kidney disease
- Travelers planning to go to an area of the world with a high hepatitis B infection rate
Take precautions to avoid HBV
Other ways to reduce your risk of HBV include:
- Know the HBV status of any sexual partner. Don’t engage in unprotected sex unless you’re absolutely certain your partner isn’t infected with HBV or any other sexually transmitted infection.
- Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex if you don’t know the health status of your partner. Remember that although condoms can reduce your risk of contracting HBV, they don’t eliminate the risk.
- Don’t use illegal drugs. If you use illicit drugs, get help to stop. If you can’t stop, use a sterile needle each time you inject illicit drugs. Never share needles.
- Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you get a piercing or tattoo, look for a reputable shop. Ask about how the equipment is cleaned. Make sure the employees use sterile needles. If you can’t get answers, look for another shop.
- Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. If you’re traveling to a region where hepatitis B is common, ask your doctor about the hepatitis B vaccine in advance. It’s usually given in a series of three injections over a six months period.
According to the Minister of Health, the goal is to reduce Hepatitis mortality and morbidity by 2030.
“The plan aims to provide leadership and coordination in systematic scale-up Hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment service within the public and private sector,” said Elizabeth Achuei during the launch of the National Strategic Plan on Viral Hepatitis in South Sudan 2020 – 2024 and Treatment Care for Viral Hepatitis in Juba on Wednesday.
“Since the majority of Hepatitis infections in South Sudan is Hepatitis, our plan is to invest in measures to fight the disease.”