Kenyans asked to go for tests amid surge in hepatitis cases

Kenyans are advised to go for screening for hepatitis amid concerns that the disease is on the rise in the country.

Dr Julius Tuei, who heads the hepatitis laboratory at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), on Thursday said the number of cases in the country had risen dramatically in the past 22 years.

The World Health Organization says viral hepatitis is fast becoming a major global health problem that needs an urgent response.

As a result, the United Nations agency is urging governments to increase access to testing and treatment.

“It costs between Sh500 and Sh1,000 to test for hepatitis. If someone tests positive, there are more conclusive tests that are conducted before they are put on treatment,” Dr Tuei said.

It is costly to treat the disease once one is infected.

Treating one person infected with hepatitis C for three months costs about Sh120,000.

In view of this, the research scientist advises that prevention is better than cure.

However, prevention may pose a challenge at a time when a number of health institutions in Kenya, especially Nairobi County, are complaining of a shortage of hepatitis A vaccine.

A spot check by the Nation at two hospitals in the city indicated that the vaccine has been out of stock.

However, the Director of Medical Services, Dr Jackson Kioko, said he was yet to receive reports of a stock out.

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