Health experts have advised government to come up with a strategy to stop the increasing cases of Hepatitis B that has affected Ugandans compared to HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
According to Dr. Kabagambe said the prevalence rate of Hepatitis is 10% compared the 7.3% of HIV/AIDs and has affects 3.5 million Ugandans.
Dr. Susan Nabadda, a Consultant Pathologist at Mulago Hospital, said that the Government’s strategy includes increasing access to laboratory tests for hepatitis up to the lower Health Centre III, controlling quality of testing, training and building capacity in diagnosing hepatitis and linking of people who have tested positive to health centers for viral load testing and treatment.
Others strategies are capturing data, boosting the supply chain for chemical and equipment to increase access to diagnosis. Currently, Ugandans pay a lot of money to test for Hepatitis, on vaccination and establishing the viral load.
Dr. Nabadda made the remarks on Wednesday during the launch of the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme that was organised by the Uganda Medical Laboratory Technology Association (UMLTA). CPD was rolled out to 112 districts in the country.
Brenda Mushabe, the UMLTA President noted that the CPD program is intended to improve laboratory professionalism since it is critical in shaping the health care delivery systems and vital in disease detection and follow-up of treatment outcomes in hospitals and health centres.
Mushabe said this year’s CPD, is focusing on Hepatitis B, customer care and ethics and professionalism.
She said Hepatitis B is priority because it is a major health problem in Uganda with a prevalence of 10% (affecting 3.5million people in the population).
“Since lab professionals are at risk of getting exposed to infected blood and various body fluids in their routine work, this CPD program will give them skills on how to handle samples suspected of Hepatitis B,” Mushabe said.
In the same vein, Kenneth Kabagambe, the executive director of the National Organisation for People Living with Hepatitis B (NOPLHB), said 80% of the liver cancers in Uganda are also caused by Hepatitis.
Kabagambe said the prevalence rate of Hepatitis is 10% compared the 7.3% of HIV/AIDs in Uganda .
He said one of the biggest challenges in the fight against the disease is that people who test positive and are referred do not even know where to go.
“The few available facilities for testing Hepatitis viral load across the country are very expensive-charging between sh190,000 to sh400,000 which the common person cannot afford. But also, the absence of guidelines for health workers in the treatment of hepatitis has left them to try and error while handling such a serious disease,” he said.
Kabagambe said that due to the existing challenges in accessing treatment, many patients have been exploited by quacks who claim to treat the disease including traditional healers.
He urged stakeholders in the country’s health sector to ensure that their strategy against hepatitis fits into the World Health Organisation’s plan of eliminating hepatitis globally by 2021.
The Registrar of Allied Health Professional Council, Patrick Mpiima said CPD is intended to improve the quality of service delivery to ensure the laboratory professionals are not obsolete.
He noted that there has been a public outcry over incompetent laboratory technicians which CPD will address.