WORLD HEPATITIS DAY AND THE PHARMACIST

World Hepatitis Day is commemorated every year on the 28th July. According to World Health Organization (WHO), there are 290 million people living with viral hepatitis who may be unaware that they have the disease. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost needlessly.

The Ghana College of Pharmacists is a postgraduate institution established to train Fellows and specialists in pharmacy and related disciplines.  These specialized experts in Pharmacy contribute in various ways by working with other health professionals to ensure optimal health for all in Ghana.  As we observe this year’s World Hepatitis Day, we call on all pharmacists, fellows of the Ghana College of Pharmacists and specialist pharmacists from across the world to take action and raise the needed awareness and advocacy to find the “missing millions” living with the virus to seek appropriate care.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that may be caused by one of five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, or E. Hepatitis A and E are commonly contracted by ingestion of contaminated food or water, while transmission of hepatitis B and C occurs by contact with body fluids of infected individuals. No specific drug therapy is available for the treatment of hepatitis A or E. Hepatitis B and C infections however are worldwide concerns because they often lead to chronic liver disease and ultimately death. Much effort has been dedicated to global eradication of these diseases through education and vaccination.

Specialist pharmacists play significant roles in the management and care of persons who have been exposed to hepatitis.  These includes providing support for the efficient diagnosis, prevention and therapeutic management of the disease. The mentioned are at the core of strategies for minimizing and subsequently eradicating this menace.

Pharmacists, particularly those in community and hospital practice settings provides monitoring of therapy of patients diagnosed with hepatitis, with associated counselling.  All of these services and activities goes a long way to limit the spread, morbidity and mortality from the diseases and in addition, minimize the psychosocial and economic burden associated with it.

As the world marks world hepatitis day today, the College calls on all pharmacists and other health professionals to use the day to undertake education, counselling and monitoring of all patients with hepatitis and members of the public who may be at risk of contracting the disease.

We also call on members of the public to go for testing to ascertain their hepatitis status and then take the appropriate vaccinations for prevention. We further call on all individuals who have tested positive for hepatitis, to make sure they communicate their status with the appropriate health professional including the nearest pharmacist so they can help them better deal with the condition.

We further call on all Ghanaians to continue to adhere to all the personal safety, hand hygiene practices and the social distancing protocols outlined for the fight against COVID-19.

Hepatitis can be prevented, managed and controlled for improved quality of life.