Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has urged government at all levels to increase budgetary allocation for health to a benchmark that can reduce the burden of viral hepatitis.
He also wants the health condition to be included in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to improve the quality and access to medical facilities across the country.
Gowon urged the Federal Government to come up with a national treatment programme to tackle viral hepatitis.
At an event to commemorate the 2018 World Hepatitis Day and to launch National Directory of Viral Hepatitis Services in Nigeria in Abuja, Gowon said to effectively deal with the health challenges of Nigerians, more funds would be required.
He urged the government to utilize the ongoing “Nigeria AIDS Indicators and Impact Survey (NAIIS)” to determine viral hepatitis burden in Nigeria.
The National Directory of Viral Hepatitis Services in Nigeria is part of efforts to meet the desire of the majority of the populace to reduce the level of the infection in the country through the creation of platform for awareness, screening and support.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, described hepatitis as a global infectious disease, adding that approximately 292 million people were actively infected with Hepatitis B virus while 71 million were infected with Hepatitis C virus.
Adewole noted that globally, an estimated 1.8 million children under five (5) years have Hepatitis B infection despite the availability of a potent vaccine that could be used to protect kids against the virus.
According to him, about 1.34 million deaths were recorded from the infection globally in 2015.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, the minister said 22 million Nigerians were estimated to have Hepatitis B while roughly four million were infected with Hepatitis C.