The National Viral Hepatitis Programme of Ghana Health Service has called for the support of corporate bodies to bring down viral hepatitis B and C infections in the country.
Hepatitis C now has very effective treatment but is expensive and out of reach to most persons diagnosed with the disease.
Dr Atsu Seake-Kwawu, Programme Manager for the National Viral Hepatitis Programme, GHS, said this at a meeting with corporate institutions in Accra.
The meeting, organised by the Ghana Health Service discussed ways corporate entities could fund the programme to give opportunity for untreated hepatitis C patients to receive curative treatment to avert complications.
Dr Seake-Kwawu said the meeting was necessary to mobilise domestic funds towards planning and eliminating chronic forms of hepatitis in Ghana by 2030 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
He said both hepatitis B and C were hyperendemic in Ghana and that dedicated funders were needed to support efforts of the Service to test more people to enable them to know their status and receive appropriate care.
He said the introduction of a hepatitis B birth dose vaccine administered within 24 hours of birth to newborns to complement existing routine pentavalent vaccines, which started at six weeks of age, could help to rapidly break the chain of chronic hepatitis B infections in the country.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth.
Both hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through contact with infected body fluids as well.
Dr Adwoa Agyei-Nkansah, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical school, described chronic hepatitis B and C as a silent epidemic as most people affected manifested no obvious signs or symptoms for decades until they presented with end-stage liver disease.
She said testing and treatment were critical interventions for hepatitis C while testing, vaccination and chronic care were important tools for control of hepatitis B.
She said liver cancer and liver failure were causing premature deaths of Ghanaians in the most productive stage of life and that it had to be curtailed.
She called on the country to break the silence around the disease.
A nationwide study done last year stated that although both viral infections were found all over Ghana, the regions of northern Ghana carried the heaviest burdens.