Report

On the Occasion of the World Hepatitis Day

“Sudan Can’t Wait to Eliminate Hepatitis”

Haffiya Elyas

World Hepatitis Day is marked on July 28th every year to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes.

Infections with the hepatitis virus are the leading cause of liver disease all over the world. Sudan is one of the countries with the highest seroprevalence of the hepatitis B virus.

Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the WHO celebrated World Hepatitis Day, which is considered an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners, and the public, and highlight the need for a greater global response.

Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap to be addressed to achieve the global elimination goals by 2030.

The Federal Ministry of Health acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and the high rates of hepatitis among all segments of society, announcing the approval of the national strategic plan for control during the coming period.

During the celebration of World Hepatitis Day, which was held at the ministry last Sunday, July 31st, 2022, Dr. Haitham Mohamed Ibrahim described the situation as extremely dangerous through tests and blood banks, adding, “There is a significant and alarming increase in the number of cases, which requires the implementation of interventions at all stages.”

Representative of the World Health Organization Sudan Office, Dr. Nima Saeed Abed, revealed the high rates of hepatitis C and B infections worldwide, pointing to the presence of 9 and a half million (9,500) million patients taking treatment, and noting that only 10% of the infected people know They are infected with the disease, with a low percentage of those receiving treatment, either because of its unavailability or its high cost.

Abed stressed the importance of knowing the extent of the problem, and praising what Sudan has accomplished by performing the first liver transplant, describing it as a great achievement under exceptional circumstances, pledging the organization’s support for all efforts made by the Ministry to combat the disease.

“WHO aims to achieve hepatitis elimination by 2030. To get there, WHO calls on countries to achieve specific targets:

Reduce new infections of hepatitis B and C by 90%;

Reduce hepatitis-related deaths from liver cirrhosis and cancer by 65%;

Ensure that at least 90% of people with hepatitis B and C virus are diagnosed; and

At least 80% of those eligible receive appropriate treatment”, he said.

The Director of the National Center for Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Dr. Abdel Moneim Al-Tayeb, acknowledged the high cost of treatment, amounting to 20,000 pounds per month, which requires concerted efforts, pointing to the availability of a screening device at Ibn Sina Hospital and another at Stack Lab.

He stressed the lack of accurate statistics on the size of the disease based on the evidence, pointing out that there are 10 examination centers in Khartoum and the same in several states, with plans to complete the rest of the states next year.

Noting that hepatitis in Sudan is ranked seventh among 27 diseases with the highest rates and is considered one of the endemic diseases, indicating that 90% of patients are unaware of their infection due to the absence of symptoms, which requires increased awareness of early detection,

He added that the challenge is great to eradicate it by 2030, which requires the ministry to move resources, activate policies, integrate its services into basic health care centers, and provide vaccination for the injured and the most vulnerable.

It is worth noting that in November 2020 hepatitis national stakeholders in Sudan gathered for a WHO workshop in Khartoum to discuss how strategic information can better guide hepatitis elimination efforts. The workshop was organized with the support of the WHO country office in Sudan and the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean as part of a collaboration between the Departments of Science, Information and Dissemination, and Universal Health Coverage/Communicable Diseases.

Before the workshop, meetings and site visits were conducted by the WHO Regional Office Information Systems for Health team to assess the national health information system’s capacity to report on viral hepatitis indicators.

It is worth noting that in November 2020 hepatitis national stakeholders in Sudan gathered for a WHO workshop in Khartoum to discuss how strategic information can better guide hepatitis elimination efforts. The workshop was organized with the support of the WHO country office in Sudan and the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean as part of a collaboration between the Departments of Science, Information and Dissemination, and Universal Health Coverage/Communicable Diseases.

The workshop concluded with recommendations for both the national program and stakeholders, emphasizing the role of data as a core element of the hepatitis response. Key next steps include working to improve acute hepatitis surveillance, implementing the WHO protocol on estimating mortality in two centers in Khartoum, and drafting a plan for implementing an electronic system for hepatitis reporting in Sudan.

WHO is highlighting the need for bringing hepatitis care closer to the primary health facilities and communities so that people have better access to treatment and care, no matter what type of hepatitis they may have.

Health systems that are organized around the needs of people and communities perform more effectively, cost less, increase patient engagement, and are better prepared to respond to health crises. The new Global Health Sector Strategy 2022–2030 calls for the integration of hepatitis services and leveraging primary health care (PHC) platforms to make services more accessible to people in need.

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