More than 300 residents of Winneba in the Central Region have received free Hepatitis B testing and vaccination as part of activities to mark the 2021 World Hepatitis Day.
The event was observed in the community last Saturday.
The beneficiaries, most of whom were women and children, were drawn from Esuekyir, Gahadzie, Gengenadzie, Osobonpenyin, Atekyedu, Warabeba, Asiebu, Sankur and other adjoining communities within the Efutu Municipality.
The exercise was spearheaded by the Mumbies Foundation Ghana, a Winneba-based non-governmental organisation, in partnership with the Member of Parliament for Efutu, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who is also the Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament.
The initiative was necessitated by a study conducted by the Efutu Municipal Health Directorate at Esuekyir, a community in the municipality, two years ago, which showed that the disease was prevalent in the area.
In addition to the free screening exercise, the Mumbies Foundation also organised a float within the Winneba township to create awareness of the disease and to sensitise the people to the precautionary measures.
The World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year to raise global awareness of hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E — and to encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic diseases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show that an estimated 240 million people in the world are chronically infected with Hepatitis B.
Addressing a durbar before the testing exercise, the acting Municipal Director of Health Services in Efutu, Ms Mariatu Seidu, said Hepatitis B was prevalent in Ghana, revealing that one out of 12 persons were living with the disease.
She expressed concern that in spite of the disease being a significant public health problem, it had not been given the needed attention and investment as compared to other viral diseases.
While commending the Mumbies Foundation for the initiative, Ms Seidu encouraged residents in the area to be mindful that the disease was common, hence the need for them to test and know their status.
“The disease is very close to us. Out of 2,106 persons that were tested in Esuekyir, 178 came out positive. The danger is that you can have the disease for a very long time and not experience symptoms. So we encourage you all to get tested to know your status,” she said.
The Founder of Mumbies Foudation, Mr Israel Adorbley, said the organisation was established out of the need to control the prevalence of the disease in the area and to support underprivileged communities and groups against the virus.
He appealed to the government to invest more resources in the fight against the disease, especially in vulnerable communities which could not afford vaccination and treatment.
Some of the beneficiaries later expressed delight during interaction with the Daily Graphic that the exercise had offered them an opportunity to know their status, and appealed for more of such initiatives in future.