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33 of 410 patrons of free hepatitis B screening exercise test positive at Kejetia

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By Nicholas Osei-Wusu
The claim by health experts that the prevalence of hepatitis B in Ghana is high and alarming became apparent in Kumasi when 33 out of the 410 persons who patronised a free screening exercise on the disease at the Kejetia Market complex in Kumasi tested positive for the virus.
Incidentally, these persons did not know of their status before the exercise.
It is estimated that one out of every 30 people in Ghana is living with the Hepatitis ‘B’ virus, which translates into about 12 percent of the prevalent rate in the country currently. 
The rate is not just alarming but very worrying for public health and safety. 
The Secretary to the Hepatitis ‘B’ Foundation of Ghana, Richard Nii Yemoh Larry, who made this known to GBC’s Radio Ghana, is urging everyone to subject himself or herself to testing to know their status so as to access either vaccination or treatment.
Hepatitis ‘B’ is a viral disease that affects mainly the liver without presenting any major symptoms from the onset of infection until the deteriorating stage. 
This is what leads health experts to consider the disease a very dangerous one.
Hepatitis ‘B’ is not only highly infectious among humans, but also has no known cure, at least for now, except management. 
It is in appreciation and recognition of this nature of the disease that the World Health Organisation (WHO), has set aside the 28th of July every year for its member countries to create enhanced public education and awareness about the reality and dangers of the viral disease to at least reduce its rate of infection. 
But the Hepatitis ‘B’ Foundation of Ghana has decided to go beyond the WHO acclaimed one day for the disease’s public awareness by extending activities commemorating the day to August by organising a free screening exercise for people in the Ashanti regional capital of Kumasi, targeting particularly traders, patrons, and workers at the newly built Kejetia Market Complex. 
A total of 410 of the target group took advantage of the exercise to know their Hepatitis ‘B’ status. Of this number, 33 were diagnosed to be living with the virus without their knowledge and were referred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital for immediate treatment.
They were not only screened for the virus but also educated on its nature, mode of infection, cost, treatment, and prevention.
The Secretary to the Hepatitis ‘B’ Foundation of Ghana, Richard Nii Yemoh Larry, told GBC News that his team detected positive cases of the hepatitis infection as the news team was leaving the event venue.
“When you take 30 people, one has Hepatitis ‘B‘ which is very serious.” He noted that even though the disease does not present any clear symptoms at the early stages, it is very deadly and hence must be taken seriously by everyone.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know we have the virus. What has happens is, the most you begin to see signs at the hospital, it is already too late to do anything about it,” he lamented.

Some traders at the Kejetia Market complex who patronised the screening exercise, shared with Radio Ghana what they know about the disease and how important the exercise was to them.
Madam Sara Badu Marfo said, “what I know about the disease is that, it affects the liver and can render one weak. If you are diagnosed with it, it helps you to know how to treat it. That is why I have come for the screening.”
On his part, another trader at the Kejetia Market complex, Ebenezer Darko noted, “Hepatitis ‘B’ is an infection of the liver through different means, including even the sweat of an infected person.
This exercise is a great opportunity for we the traders at this market that will enable us protect ourselves, if we are diagnosed negative.”

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