Published 03/08/2023

The fight against viral hepatitis: building the capacity of healthcare professionals to provide better care

Through its program to combat HIV and related diseases, ENDA Santé works to prevent and improve the care of people infected with HIV and HBV. In implementing its activities, awareness-raising sessions on hepatitis B, testing and support for care are carried out in collaboration with ENDA Santé's partner health structures.

For the day dedicated to the fight against hepatitis, ENDA Santé, with its partner 3CAP-Santé, marked the event with a capacity-building workshop for Kaolack community players on advocacy for better hepatitis care. This activity will be coupled with a hepatitis B screening session in the near future.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a public health problem in many parts of the world, due to its frequency, complications and socio-economic consequences. Half the world's population lives in a region with a high prevalence of HBV. Two (2) billion people are known to be infected with HBV, including 350 to 400 million chronic HBV carriers. Most of these people are unaware of their infection, and continue to carry the virus. They therefore run a high risk of contracting serious chronic liver disease, and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.

An advocacy action plan to bring down the cost of hepatitis treatment

The celebration of World Hepatitis Day was a pretext for raising awareness of the types of hepatitis that exist, their modes of transmission, manifestations, care and prevention. The proceedings culminated in a local advocacy action plan. The event was held at the Kaolack Departmental Council, and was attended by the President of the local 3Cap-Santé Committee, representatives of the Prefect, the Regional Health Director, the Mayor of the town of Kaolack, the President of the Departmental Council, the President of the 3Cap-Santé Orientation and Monitoring Council, and grassroots community organizations.

An agent from the Ministry of Health and Social Action (MSAS), representing the Regional Health Department, shared the results of a study carried out by the Kaolack regional hospital on hepatitis, which shows a prevalence of 20%, 53% of whom are women. The A and B viruses are the most common in Senegal, and particularly in Kaolack, but there is the question of treatment, which is considered extremely costly. The cost of pre-inclusion check-ups is too high, according to Médoune Koné, President of the "And xekh hépatite B" association, who estimates that people tested positive have to pay up to 65,000 francs.

Other points raised included the lack of data on the prevalence of hepatitis among vulnerable populations, and the stigma faced by hepatitis sufferers in care facilities.

 The large numbers of people who attended the event showed a clear interest in the day. They are aware of the complications of hepatitis, but also of its socio-economic consequences.

The Local Committee, the operational arm of the Governance Pool coordinated by ENDA Santé as part of the 3CAP-Santé network, will be lobbying at regional level for a subsidy of costs similar to those for HIV care. An advocacy plan has been drawn up and will be finalized shortly.

FEVE IMPULSE/CARES: continuity in hepatitis management

Hepatitis Awareness Day is a time of intense communication, when those involved redouble their efforts to encourage individuals, partners and the general public to take action and mobilize even more. But beyond this day, ENDA Santé, through its FEVE IMPULSE and CARES projects, provides an ongoing response to viral hepatitis. These projects organize routine screening tests. The collaboration between FEVE IMPULSE, implemented in Dakar, Thiès and Ziguinchor, and CARES, implemented in Casamance and Guinea Bissau, should also be emphasized. Some people tested positive for hepatitis are treated by the CARES project.