World News

Hepatitis B is real

14 July 2015 at 10:49 | 1434 views

Commentary

By Tony Bee, Sydney, Australia.

Hepatitis B is real. It affects the health of human beings like any other disease on earth. As a result, it kills like any other disease that one can think of, especially like the current Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, HIV/AIDS, malaria and cholera, because it destroys the liver and causes heart failure, according to credible research. Therefore, more attention should be given to it by the world’s health stakeholders, especially WHO.

We have heard or read many books and other materials on health issues published by the World Health Organization (WHO), especially about many of the world’s common enemies of human beings called diseases. For instance we have heard and also read about the current Ebola virus disease, HIV/AIDS, malaria, cholera and SAS (a respiratory illness) enough as I stated earlier. We also heard and read about their symptoms and effects on human beings’ health all over the world, especially in Africa and Asia. Therefore, a lot of money is being spent on such diseases to save lives.
And of course the spending is still going on unabated by the world stakeholders through WHO to stop the occurrence of such diseases.

However, unfortunately little attention was/is given to one of the most silent and dangerous killer diseases in the universe, especially in Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe, which is Hepatitis B disease. This disease is secretly killing thousands of innocent and helpless people all over the world, particularly Africa, Asia and Australia. Currently many countries and their communities are suffering from Hepatitis B disease, particularly the African, Asian communities and Australian mainstream communities, according to reports.

Hepatitis B is a disease that destroys the liver and causes liver cancer. According to worldwide research, there are approximately 240 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and about 780, 000 die every year due to this chronic infection. For instance, about 218,000 people in Australia are living with chronic hepatitis B according to reports. However, about half of them did not know that they have it, because normally it does not have symptoms, the reports said. Most of them were born in countries where hepatitis B is common, particularly in Africa, Asia, and the pacific, according to research

The report further stated that Hepatitis B is generally transmitted from mother to baby at birth. Without proper care and treatment up to 25% of people with chronic hepatitis B will die from complications of cirrhosis or liver cancer. And it is also caused by excessive alcohol and drug use. Therefore, there is a great need of creating community awareness about the danger of such disease to human beings’ health.

In view of that in 2013,a highly inspirational and successful Hepatitis B community campaign in the USA, San Francisco Hepatitis B free, in the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis B Service (MHAHS) called on leaders from the affected communities to come together and form the Hepatitis B Community Alliance, especially in Australia, New South Wales (NSW) to address the chronic hepatitis B issue in NSW.

Therefore, on the 17th of June 2015, one of the organisations in Sydney that are fighting tooth and nail to prevent and promote awareness of Hepatitis B called Hepatitis B Community Alliance in NSW invited to a seminar a cross section of the Sierra Leone community leaders, particularly those in Sydney NSW. Among them were Mr. Anthony Bee-Conteh, Ms Adama Kamara, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Bangura on behalf of the entire community in NSW.

Ms Barabara Luisi, Manager for Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service did the introduction and welcoming address, while Dr. Jo Mitchell, Director, Centre for Population Health, NSW Ministry of Health (photo) in Australia did the presentation with the use of power point.

According to Dr. Jo Mitchell, one of the proposes of inviting members of the Sierra Leone community, was to make them know more about the existence of Hepatitis B and its effects and also about the existence of Hepatitis B Community Alliance organisation in NSW.

She said that she believed they as Sierra Leoneans would be able to take the lead in creating awareness in their community about some of the causes of Hepatitis B, its effects and prevention. And to create awareness on how Sierra Leoneans should visit their doctors regularly for Hepatitis B tests, especially for clinical treatment. In view of that she spoke about some of the goals, priorities and actions in dealing with Hepatitis B disease.

She emphasised that many communities, especially in NSW do not know much about Hepatitis B disease, particularly about its effects, especially among African communities. She therefore urged the Sierra Leone community leaders to take the lead in educating their people about the realty of Hepatitis B virus and its causes, effects and prevention.

Participants at Hepatitis B seminar in Sydney, Australia. Sierra Leonean-Australian journalist Tony Bee is seated fourth from left.

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