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Absence of Hepatitis B services pose major threat to public health – Dr. Akello

Author: Moyo Jacob | Published: Friday, April 8, 2022

Dr. Harriet Akello Pasquale, the Director for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the Ministry of Health - Credit | Moyo Jacob/Eye Radio | April 7, 2022

Lack of screening and treatment services for Hepatitis B in the public health facilities is posing a threat to the lives of the South Sudanese, the Ministry of Health has said.

The concern was raised shortly after the Ministry with partners launched the national guidelines for the management of symptomatic sexually transmitted infections and HIV self-testing yesterday in Juba.

Hepatitis B is sexually transmitted that develops into a chronic disease, matures into cancer and can cause death if not treated at early stage.

According to the Ministry, absence of treatment at the public health facilities in the Country also forces many South Sudanese to seek treatment in other Countries.

However, the government has allocated an increased budget of 9 percent for the health sector in the Country.

Dr. Harriet Akello Pasquale, the Director for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the Ministry of Health says the increased budget will help in the provision of some basic Hepatitis B services in the Country.

“South Sudan is estimated to have a prevalence of about eight percent. Currently, we don’t have screening services happening at all at the health facilities. If it happens, it’s just in some few private health facilities where people go and do the testing, so this is one of the challenges,” Dr. Akello said.

“Access to Hepatitis B and C treatment is very low in South Sudan, below 0.1%, and there is no treatment at all in the public health facilities for Hepatitis.

“This year is really an opportunity, the government has increased the health budget to almost 9%. This could be an opportunity to use this money at least to provide some basic Hepatitis B services like giving the birth dose vaccine.”

It is confirmed that South Sudan is reporting a high number of Hepatitis B cases but a quantitative estimate is not available due to lack of proper data documentation.

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