Hon. Alexander Afenyo Markin, the deputy majority leader, has urged the government to make hepatitis B services free, just like they are for TB and HIV/AIDS, in order to safeguard the weak and disadvantaged members of society and to save needless deaths.
In order to make Hepatitis B services accessible, inexpensive, or even free, as is the case for TB and HIV/AIDS, he contends that Hepatitis B testing, diagnosis, vaccine, and treatment must be included on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
He said that “with World Hepatitis B Day approaching somewhere in July, the Government should make testing, vaccination and treatment accessible to the communities to save lives. This can be done through decentralization of the services which will make implementation of a community-based Hepatitis B more effective”.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Efutu in a statement on Hepatitis B and its enrolment on National Health Insurance Scheme program submitted that, it is only the Teaching hospitals in Ghana that are well equipped to manage Hepatitis B, hence affected people outside these areas who are referred and are mostly the poor decline and seek alternative treatment leading to complications and death.
He stressed in the statement that, “as the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide, viral Hepatitis B elimination could greatly reduce the rate of liver cancer deaths, if only we can find and treat the millions of people who are unaware they are living with the condition”.
The MP revealed that HIV patients get the antiretroviral drugs free of charge but “unfortunately, Hepatitis B patients who also rely on this same medication have to buy. If we do this, it will reduce morbidity and mortality in our country to the barest minimum, with a strong focus on vulnerable groups within our rural areas”.
The vocal MP also called on his colleagues MPs, the corporate institutions, Chiefs, opinion leaders, religious leaders and other stakeholders to actively engage in public education to create more awareness, which he believed will lead to voluntary testing, with those who test negative quickly taking the vaccine which is very cheap and will not cost more than GHc 100, “once they are able to vaccinate with three shots, they are safe from getting the infection”.
He again urged the Government to intensify public education through radio, TV and print media about the causes of Hepatitis B and mode of transmission to create more awareness.