The Mandera Government today launched efforts to kick out Hepatitis B out of the county.
County Secretary Abdinur Maalim Hussein led health workers in getting a jab against the disease at Mandera County Referral Hospital.
Mr Hussein was accompanied by Health executive Mohamud Eda and chief officer Rahma Abdullahi Mahmud.
The County Secretary said health workers were at higher risk of contracting Hepatitis B due to occupational exposure via infected patients body fluids and blood.
The launch of free Hepatitis B vaccine for health workers, he said, was thus “a major public health cornerstone in our health services delivery.”
This mass vaccination campaign is to be expanded to cover all Mandera residents with the aim of kicking Hepatitis B out of the county.
“In line with the big 4 agenda of H.E the president in which quality healthcare is the cornerstone, Mandera County under the leadership of H.E Governor will keep scaling the heights to ensure our people attain the highest attainable level of health services,” Mr Hussein said.
On his part, Dr Eda said the launch “marks another big milestone in our great County of Mandera in health services delivery with the beginning of the first phase of a campaign meant to kick Hep B out of Mandera County.”
Globally July is marked as the World Hepatitis month, with July 28th celebrated as World Hepatitis Day. There are several subtypes of Hepatitis with A, B, C being the commonest with all posing a huge health problem.
Dr Eda said Hepatis B which is the commonest subtype in Mandera County, is responsible for most infections and leads to chronic liver cirrhosis and liver failure as well as liver cancer as an end stage complication of the same.
Ms Abdullahi, the Public Health chief officer said the health workers were screened of the infection “to ensure no one gets vaccinated without knowing his or her status.”
“Out of the 226 staff screened, 4.5 % tested positive,” she said.
Her department, she added, has noted a rise of the Hepatitis B infection and that measures had been put in place to ensure health workers were “fully protected as per the immunization policy.”
Globally an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B virus as per World Health Organisation.
“A recent global burden of disease study estimates that most sub-Saharan African countries including Kenya, have a prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B infection of 10 % which is about 400,000 persons annually,” Mr Hussein said.
The infection prevalence, he said, was highest among persons who resided in former North Eastern Province (13.9%) followed by persons who received blood transfusion (11.2%).
“The study revealed that the reasons for high prevalence among residents of NEP may be due to shared common cultural or traditional harmful cultural practices like FGM and polygamy coupled with low level of vaccination against Hepatitis B in adult population,” Mr Hussein said.
According to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, a total of 10,270 persons were tested for Hepatitis B infection in Mandera County last year with 10 percent of them turning positive.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood or body fluids of an infected person including sexual intercourse and sharing of infected needles by drug abusers.
“The good news is, this is vaccine preventable illness, with vaccination conferring life-long immunity if a person receives all the required 3 doses at 0, 1 and 6 months and with booster doses after 10 years,” Dr Eda said.
Emphasising that “prevention is always better than cure and it pays to be safe than being sorry when the illness strikes,” Dr Eda urged locals to test to know their Hepatitis B status and get vaccinated to protect oneself and family.
On Covid-19, the Dr Eda added, the pandemic requires concerted individual as well as government effort to stop the community transmission and break the chain.
“We urge our people to take this killer disease seriously and take personal protection seriously in line with the guidelines set up by the ministry of health….also Know your Hepatitis B status, Get Vaccinated and kick Hepatitis B out of Mandera county,” he said.