Covenant Seeks Increased Awareness on Scourge of Hepatitis
The Covenant University Community Development Initiative Impact Committee (CU-CDIIC), in partnership with the Stella Ihwechi Foundation (SIF), on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 World Hepatitis B-day.
The commemorative event featured an awareness campaign and a free screening exercise at Owode, Idiroko, Ogun State.
While declaring the event open, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abiodun H. Adebayo, represented by Professor Oyinkepreye D. Orodu, said the occasion was to raise awareness about the viral nature of Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease.
Professor Adebayo said observing the day helped bring stakeholders, communities, policymakers, and national leaders to a common platform to discuss ideas to eliminate the infection. He noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that in 2015, over 257 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection.
According to him, Hepatitis B could be prevented by vaccines that were safe, available and effective. He stated that, based on the current estimation by the WHO, the percentage of children under age five with chronic HBV infection dropped to just under 1% in 2019, which was a 5% drop from what it was in the pre-vaccine era.
"It is in line with these facts that this awareness-creating event is organised to offer free counselling, medical screening and drugs to members of this community. I, therefore, encourage members of this community to take advantage of this opportunity and to observe the expert advice being offered today to take preventive vaccine measures and prescribed treatment for those already infected," he stated.
Professor Adebayo pledged Covenant's continuous support in driving corporate social responsibility through investment in community development projects initiatives of the CU-CDIIC. He said that over the years, the University had been able to support communities in her immediate environment with rural electrification projects, provision of classrooms and science laboratory equipment, and water boreholes system, among others.
The Registrar, Dr Oluwasegun Omidiora, represented by the Deputy Registrar, Mr Emmanuel Igban, commended the CDIIC and SIF for putting together the event, noting that the theme of this year's celebration was a pointer to the reality that the world could not treat the Hepatitis scourge with levity.
Dr Omidiora said hopes were high that increased awareness would help roll back the impact of hepatitis B in Owode community, Ogun State, and the entire nation within a very short time. "As an institution that recognises the importance of corporate social responsibility, Covenant will continue to provoke community development initiative in and around our host community," he added.
The Founder of Stella Ihwechi Foundation, Mrs Stella Akani-Olusanmi, said the latest report from the WHO indicated that around 400 million people had Hepatitis B and C infection. She said the figure was more than ten times the number of people living with HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 1.45 million dead due to the disease in 2013 – up from less than a million in 1990.
Mrs Akani-Olusanmi said studies in Nigeria indicated an average of 11 to 14 per cent prevalence of Hepatitis B infection, suggesting that about 17 to 22 million Nigerians may be affected by Hepatitis B virus alone. "The implication is that at least one of every 10 Nigerian is chronologically infected by Hepatitis B and not only at the risk of liver disease and death but also at the risk of transmitting it to others," she said.
In her welcome remark, the Chair, CU-CDIIC, Dr Tayo George, said the University was commemorating the day to bring awareness to the "silent epidemic" called Hepatitis. The other aim was to see how the event could jolt society to take serious actions towards putting an end to it by the year 2030.
Participants were screened for Hepatitis B and other ailments, while free drugs and medications were available to beneficiaries. The theme of this year's event was "Hepatitis Can't Wait".
Members of Covenant CDIIC Team to Owode