June 27, 2013

Nigeria partners MSD, FSRC to battle hepatitis C

Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00 By Tony Nwanne

AHEAD the World Hepatitis Day which comes up in July 28, international medical firms has beginning to focus more on Africa, most especially Nigeria, to continually create awareness and to also support Nigeria in eradicating the deadly disease in the country.

The firms, Focus Scientific Research Center (FSRC), a physician-led team of researchers, in association with the program sponsor MSD, a global healthcare leader, and a range of collaborators both regional and international, are currently working on an initiative in Nigeria to create awareness about hepatitis with the main focus on HCV.

The stakeholders, who arrived Lagos, Nigeria, last week to brainstorm on programs ahead the World Hepatitis Day, titled “Hepatitis in Africa - Call for Action”, intends to raise disease awareness among the relevant stakeholders in the region, strengthen the existing structures on ground to making sure that the disease is brought to the nearest minimal.

Speaking at the event, the Regional Director Market Access Hospital and Specialty Care, Vivian Mendonca, MSD, noted that the objectives of the program includes engaging and building a relationship with scientific leaders, patient representatives and ministry of health officials from each country to form a regional expert group, and developing national and regional activity plans.

According to Mendonca, “the initiative intends to lay the foundation for the development of country-specific activity roadmaps with the involvement of local stakeholders for effective management of HCV. We want to continually raise the awareness on the burden of Hepatitis C in sub-Sahara Africa among stakeholders”.

While the stakeholders in the health industry brainstormed against the deadly disease, it tends to engage and build a relationship among scientific leaders, patient representatives and ministry of health officials from the participating countries to develop national and regional activity plans.

During the event medical experts will forge a way to combat against HCV ranging from clinicians, physician body representatives, patient groups and policy makers were converging to take a unified call for a plan of action towards hepatitis policy formation to battle Hepatitis C.

Meanwhile, among the participating countries were Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, while Nigeria played the host.

In the same vein, the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, Dr. Jesse Otegbayo, who commended the efforts of the two firms added that the World Hepatitis Day by the World Health Organization is mandated to create health awareness days ahead to herald the growing international awareness of hepatitis as a global health care issue. “This realization is one that cannot come too soon, as several aspects of hepatitis characterize it as one of the most serious infectious disease challenges facing public health care today.”

Amongst the viral hepatitis concerns is the hepatitis C virus (HCV). This brings unique challenges like an acute phase that is generally asymptomatic and under-diagnosed; a chronic phase with a long latency period before development of life threatening, difficult to treat complications; genetic polymorphism and the lack of a vaccine. Globally over 185 million people are believed to be afflicted with HCV. In Africa alone, the WHO estimates that the prevalence is 5.3 per cent.

Focus Scientific Research Center (FSRC) of phamax AG is a physician led group of researchers who believe that healthcare issues in high growth economies can only be effectively solved through a combined effort between private, public and academic sectors.

Today’s MSD, known as Merck in the United States and Canada, is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD demonstrates her commitments to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.

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