Dr Charles Ampong Adjei, a Public Health Specialist has stated national investment in Hepatitis ‘B’ birth dose vaccines is very crucial and must be given immediate attention by the government.
According to him, “more than 12 per cent of Ghanaians are living with viral Hepatitis ‘B’ and the predominant mode of transmission is mother-to-child.”
Dr Adjei, also a lecturer at the University of Ghana made the call when he was speaking at a day’s training workshop about Hepatitis ‘B’ prevalence and prevention organised for Midwives in the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions in Sunyani.
The event, on the theme, “Reconceptualising the Midwives’ Role in Preventing Vertical Transmission of Hepatitis ‘B’ in Primary Healthcare Facilities,” was attended by more than 60 participants.
It was organised jointly by the Bono-Ahafo Chapter of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana, and the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination as part of the International Midwives Day commemoration.
It aimed among others to inform the midwives on the need to intensify education and sensitisation about Hepatitis ‘B’ in view of its rising cases in the country.
Dr Adjei explained, “prevention of mother-to-child transmission can become a reality in Ghana if midwives are empowered with accurate information on hepatitis ‘B’ because midwives are the primary source of hepatitis ‘B’ information for pregnant women”.
He noted that, “the return on investment on Hepatitis ‘B’ birth dose vaccinations for new-borns in Ghana outweighs the cost of the vaccine.”
Dr Adjei, who is the Executive Director of the Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana, a Health Research Organisation against Hepatitis ‘B’ appealed to the government to “prioritize the inclusion of Hepatitis ‘B’ birth dose vaccination in the expanded programme on immunization to avert its vertical transmission in Ghana”.
He emphasised a baby born by Hepatitis ‘B’ positive mother has 90 per cent chance of getting the virus but, he added vaccinating such a new born baby within 24 hours of his/her delivery would give him/her more than 70 per cent safety from Hepatitis ‘B’ infection.
Dr Adjei urged the midwives to give serious attention to Hepatitis ‘B’ as part of their daily health care delivery services, saying, a 2018 research indicated that the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions had 10.2 per cent Hepatitis ‘B’ prevalence and considered among the regions with higher cases in the country.
Ms Freda Asuamah Asante, a staff midwife at the Wenchi Methodist Hospital speaking to Ghana News Agency in an interview pleaded with colleague health care practitioners to intensify advocacy and sensitization during antenatal care services to help curtail spread of the Hepatitis ‘B’ disease.
Ms Asante appealed to the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and National Health Insurance Authority to support by including Hepatitis ‘B’ test and vaccination on the list of diseases covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme for the public to access that preventive care service freely to curb its spread and escalation.