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Gov. Otu Unveils 3-Year Viral Hepatitis Eradication Strategic Action Plan

In a bid to exterminate the alarming level of viral hepatitis prevalent in the Nigeria, Cross River State Government, in collaboration with health development partners, has unveiled a 3-year thematic plan to fight the disease in the state.

Speaking at the launching ceremony and dissemination of Cross River State Viral Hepatitis Strategic Plan, 2024-2026, in Calabar, last Thursday, the State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Henry Ayuk, assured that the state will not rest on its oars to completely eradicate the disease from Cross River State.

Governor Otu stated that with the 8.9 prevalence rate in Cross River, the work plan would serve as a veritable tool in thematically fashioning out ways of tackling the deadly ailment, as well as adopting a workable strategy of preventing the spread of the disease.

“There is needed leadership that the 'People First' governor has provided. What we require now is full participation from partners and relevant Stakeholders to enable us implement the policy plan.

"Let us also build conscious effort towards preventive determinants by asking ourselves what we can do in ensuring that hepatitis does not manifest in any form along the health line in the state.

“Let me state here that Viral Hepatitis is a challenge that must be addressed appropriately. It is for this reason that the government has rolled out healthcare plans to ensure that every citizen is given adequate health care attention that they deserve and the health insurance Scheme will be restructured to carter for the healthcare needs of our people as we cannot have comprehensive healthcare delivery without an insurance scheme in place, especially at primary level," he explained.

While appealing to the international organization to come to state's aid for improved healthcare delivery to the citizenry, the Governor announced, “We are currently running free health care services to children under the age of five, pregnant women as well as elderly persons above 70 years and we need your support to be able to sustain this programme in a manner that will be accessible to the vulnerable in the society."

In the area of domestic resource mobilization, he stressed the need for more funding from donor agencies to enable the state build the needed capacities of healthcare delivery personnel in order to garner available resources, carry out aggressive advocacies across the state, and supply other needed facilities in ensuring full implementation of the strategic plan.

The Governor assured that though the state is challenged with paucity of funds, it will ensure that whatever has been appropriated for health sector in the 2024 budget will be promptly released for the purposes they are meant for. He, however, warned managers of funds to ensure that they utilize them effectively and efficiently.

Speaking on behalf of the consulting firm to the project, Jhpiego Nigeria, Dr. Victor Adepoju, disclosed that viral hepatitis poses a serious global public health threat to millions of individuals resulting in considerable morbidity and mortality, revealing that two people die of the disease every second globally.

He noted that it has become a notable public health challenge in the state, with the launch of a strategic plan, the organization will be glad to work with the state in ensuring the implementation of the strategic plan to the later.

“Let me assure you of our dedication, commitment and hope that this document will not just remain the way others used to be, we are going to personalize it, ensure its implementation as well as work assiduously in ensuring that we have a state that is free of viral hepatitis,” he added.

Also Speaking, Special Adviser on Health, Dr. Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, informed that Cross River state government is focused on ensuring that the citizenry all over the state benefits from quality, accessible, affordable health care services in accordance with the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs), and promotion of healthy lifestyles.

In her remarks, the State Director, World Health Organization, Dr. Yewande Olatunde expressed delight at the launch of the strategic plan in Cross River to ease work. "Along other development partners, we will work with you in ensuring the full implementation of the plan for the wellbeing of the people of the state,” she assured.

The Director General Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Vivian Otu, noted that the strategic plan was very important as it will help to create awareness, raise funds and initiate strategies to sensitize the populace on the dangers associated with the disease and fashion ways to totally eliminate it from the state.

Speaking on behalf of medical professionals, the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Cross River State Chapter, Doctor Felix Archibong, explained that "hepatitis is not a respecter of anybody because 12 years ago we lost our secretary to hepatitis."

He therefore pledged, "as a professional body, we will be at the forefront in ensuring that hepatitis is eliminated from the state by supporting the implementation of this strategic plan."

By Ebi Collins, The Beagle News