Nasarawa receives continental recognition in fight against hepatitis
……We’re prompted by high prevalence-Engineer Sule.
According to Dr. Danjuma Adda, President, World Hepatitis Alliance, the award was to recognize champions whose efforts and contributions helped saved the lives of several people that would have died as a result of hepatitis.
Speaking shortly after receiving the award, Engineer Sule said his administration was prompted to make inroads in the fight against hepatitis because of the high prevalence of the disease in the country and particularly in Nasarawa State.
The Governor explained that some of the decisions taken by his administration leading to the recognition were actions taken out of panic and as a fallout of the commitment as a result of the alarming data which was indeed frightening.
“When we actually started in Nasarawa, we never had any slightest idea whatsoever that our humble efforts and initiative would earn us an award on a day like this. We started purely from our commitment to provide leadership and our believe not money. if, indeed, is the issue, Nasarawa State would not be here,” he said.
The Governor disclosed how he commissioned a consultant to undertake an independent assessment of the opportunities and challenges confronting Nasarawa State ahead of his joining politics to contest for the position of the Governor and how the survey discovered the startling prevalence of Hepatitis C, with the state recording 13.2 prevalence way above the national average of 1.1 percent.
“Some of the actions that we took that brought us to today that we are getting an award, we took some of these actions because of the panic that we had. And so we became committed because the data was alarming and it was frightening,” he said.
He added that, the study conducted showed that while Africa has the prevalence rate of 4.6 percent, with Nigeria recording 8.1 percent for Hepatitis B, Nasarawa has 11 percent which was even above the national average.
“That was what we got from the studies. As if that was not bad enough, Hepatitis C, whose prevalence is 1.1 percent, but in Nasarawa, it was 13.2 percent. These were the realities that we faced. And I was shocked to learn that one of the reasons was awareness. As simple as awareness. That awareness in Nasarawa State was less than 25 percent.
“By the time we carried out the baseline studies in the area of health, we now came head-on with the realities of our challenges in the state. We needed to upgrade and equip our primary, secondary, and tertiary health care facilities. We went ahead with the little resources at our disposal, equipping, renovating, and staffing the various categories of health care facilities in the state.
“We now have to look at a project that was started by the previous administration. At the time, it was just the civil works that were done. That is the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic and Research Center. We completed it, and in relation to that, we went ahead and equipped it and staff it for it to start working.
“But we also went ahead and established one of the best things that ever happened to Nasarawa State in the area of health. That is the health insurance. I think my deputy as a doctor has so much impact on whatever we did in the area of health. He encouraged us to establish the Drug Supply and Management Agency. That not only supplied genuine drugs to our people but also at the best price that you can find available.
“But we knew we had to go beyond awareness. Then came the issue of funding. From that year, we had to make sufficient provision in the budget. Because provision in the budget is one thing, implementing what is in the budget is another. If there is no financial backing, then it becomes just an estimate. What we did in the area of health is to ensure that whatever is being provided we do the best we can with the available resources.
“We developed a 5 year hepatitis elimination development plan from the year 2020 to 2025. Today, we have 50 percent achievement in that area. We now went into the training and we trained 500 health care workers, using the Provider Initiative Testing Strategy and of course the Gene Experts Machines which we used to train most of our staff,” he added.
Engineer Sule dedicated the award to the entire health care providers and workers in the state, for the tremendous amount of work they have put in to attract recognition for the state across the African continent.
In line with the objective of the summit, aimed at galvanizing commitment by leaders at the highest level of government, private sector and civil society organizations on innovative regional collaborations towards ending the challenge of viral hepatitis in Africa, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Ali Pate, delivered a speech at the event where he expressed commitment by the Federal Government to control and ensure the elimination of hepatitis in the country.