Celebrating World Hepatitis Day in Africa

Despite restrictions on movement and large gatherings, World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) members in the WHO AFRO region were able to effectively raise awareness online and in the media. Many members were still able to hold scaled-back and socially-distanced educational, testing and vaccination events.

About hepatitis and the World Hepatitis Alliance in the WHO AFRO region

In Africa, chronic viral hepatitis affects more than 80 million people (73.6 million with hepatitis B and 9.6 million with hepatitis C1). Fewer than 1 in 10 people in Africa have access to testing and treatment2, and coverage of the hepatitis B birth dose vaccine is lower than in any other region in the world1. More than 150,000 people die as a result of viral hepatitis or related complications in the region each year1.

The World Hepatitis Alliance has more than members across 25 countries in the WHO AFRO region. These members work tirelessly to advocate for hepatitis elimination, to raise awareness, and to deliver testing and vaccination services in a range of contexts. You can find out more about them on the World Hepatitis Alliance’s website.

1 Data: CDA Foundation’s Polaris Observatory; 2020 [updated on 17 April 2020], Accessed 17 August 2020¬†
2 https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/hepatitis 

World Hepatitis Day news and announcements from AFRO

Member activity: Benin

Alliance Béninoise des OSC contre les Hépatites Virales (ABOSCHVi)

Alliance B√©ninoise des OSC contre les H√©patites Virales (ABOSCHVi) took to social media to raise awareness of viral hepatitis on World Hepatitis Day, and in the weeks running up to it. They shared a range of informative posts on Facebook, and launched a campaign ‘Fifteen urgent actions against hepatitis’. Through this campaign, civil society organisations who are part of ABOSCHVi undertook a range of activities, including holding awareness-raising and sensitisation camps in different communities across Benin.

ABOSCHVi also took part in the WHA Virtual Relay – watch their video below:

 

Member activity: Burkina Faso

SOS Hépatites Burkina

As well as raising awareness on social media, SOS Hépatites Burkina engaged more than 1,000 people through a series of awareness-raising, testing and vaccination events.

With the support of its partners, the organisation held an awareness-raising caravan, starting at the town hall in Ouagadougou and criss-crossing through public spaces including markets and bus stations to improve public knowledge of viral hepatitis. Members of the caravan used eye-catching materials with the NOhep logo and messaging that tied into the World Health Organization’s 2020 World Hepatitis Day theme, ‘Hepatitis Free Future’. Their primary audience was women and mothers, and they emphasised messages about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B. They also urged people to get tested for hepatitis.

Before the caravan, SOS Hépatites Burkina appeared on Burkina Info television to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and their WHD activities. They were also invited to speak on Radio Omega FM and were interviewed by RFI Mandingo.

In addition to their vast array of awareness-raising activities, the organisation also screened more than 100 people for hepatitis B and C and vaccinated more than 100 people against hepatitis B in July. They also took part in the WHA Virtual Relay – watch their video below:

Member activity: Burundi

Association pour la Lutte contre les Hépatites Virales (ALHV)

Association pour la Lutte contre les Hépatites Virales (ALHV) increased their social media activity around World Hepatitis Day 2020, as well as engaging in online advocacy. They also conducted hepatitis screening, raised awareness and engaged the media to improve public knowledge of viral hepatitis.

Member activity: Ghana

Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana

The Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana’s president, Theobald Owusu-Ansah, appeared on ‘The Clinic’ on Accra-based Atinka TV to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and to discuss WHO’s World Hepatitis Day theme, ‘Hepatitis Free Future’. The organisation also posted a range of informative content across their social media channels.

Drive for Health Foundation Ghana

As well as sustained and engaging social media activity, Drive for Health Foundation Ghana also held an awareness-raising, testing and vaccination event in the city of Tamale. More than 250 people attended the event, with more than 100 people receiving hepatitis testing and more than 50 people being vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Member activity: Mauritius

HepSupport

HepSupport held a successful media campaign to raise awareness around World Hepatitis Day, including taking part in radio interviews and placing articles in newspapers. They also held a hepatitis testing and awareness-raising event in June.

 

Member activity: Nigeria

Beacon Youth Initiative

Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI) held hepatitis and sexual and reproductive health awareness and sensitisation events for more than 500 people in Azuba Bashayi and Sabon Pegi Shabu, Lafia, Nasarawa State. At these events, more than 200 women were tested for hepatitis B and C, and more than 50 were vaccinated against hepatitis B. This was the first time members of these communities had been given the opportunity to know their hepatitis status or to make decisions about accessing vaccination or treatment services.

A key focus of the event was to inform pregnant women of the need to be tested for hepatitis B to help prevent the mother-to-child transmission of the condition.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BYI took additional health and safety precautions, and sensitised the community about COVID-19 and the safety protocols they had put in place for their events.

In addition to their face-to-face activities, BYI also took to social media to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and World Hepatitis Day.

Chagro-Care Trust

On World Hepatitis Day, Chagro-Care Trust (CCT) appeared on a breakfast TV programme and were interviewed on an online radio programme in Jalingo, the Taraba state capital. They also organised a media briefing with three media houses: NTA Jalingo, Voice of Nigeria and Guardian Newspapers. They received lots of media coverage of their activities, which attracted hundreds of participated.

In collaboration with the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors, CCT organised an awareness-raising road walk which culminated in presenting a key policy document to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health in Taraba state on the need to scale up the Taraba State Hepatitis Access programme. After the road walk, CCT provided free hepatitis B and C tests and hepatitis B vaccinations. CCT observed and adhered to strict COVID-19 protocols/public health measures in all activities.

In addition to their activities in Taraba State, CCT also organised free screening for the general population in Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe states where they have field offices. Over 1000 people were tested across CCT’s four target states, and about 400 benefitted from free hepatitis B vaccination.

Please note: this image is from Chagro-Care Trust’s 2019 World Hepatitis Day events

Elohim Foundation

On World Hepatitis Day, Elohim Foundation held an awareness-raising and testing event in the Hassan Dalhatu community, an urban community in Suleja, Niger State. The event focussed particularly on key populations within the community, including people who inject drugs, female sex workers and children who are out of school.

The event started with the dissemination of awareness-raising flyers and educational materials to sensitise the community about viral hepatitis, followed by an advocacy visit to the Emirate council.

After this, a welcome address was made by Elohim Foundation’s Programme Officer Okeke, Chinyere B., during which she commended Emirate council members, community representatives, the local health department, the State Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization for their support and attendance. This was followed by an informative presentation by Elohim Foundation’s director, Ibecheole Julius, who gave a detailed lecture on the different types of hepatitis, transmission methods, common signs and symptoms, prevention, treatment and vaccination. Members of the Emirate council and the community asked questions after the presentation.

Following the presentation and Q&A session, Elohim Foundation provided hepatitis testing and referred anyone who tested positive for hepatitis B on to further care and a comprehensive health check. They will use the data gathered through testing as an advocacy tool, to ascertain the prevalence of hepatitis within the community, and to further plan for prevention and treatment among identified key populations within the community. A total of 88 people were tested (64 men and 24 women), and 12 (13.6 per cent) tested positive and were referred for follow-up care. Due to economic factors, those who tested negative were not able to access the hepatitis B vaccine. Elohim Foundation have committed to doubling their advocacy efforts to encourage policy makers to dedicate more funding to hepatitis elimination.

 

 

Civil Society Network on Hepatitis, Nigeria (CiSNHN)

CiSNHN produced a short awareness-raising video to commemorate World Hepatitis Day. The video highlights her commitment to find the missing millions and encourages people who do not know their hepatitis status to get tested. In addition, CiSNHN urges their Government Leaders to fulfill their promise to eliminate hepatitis by 2030.

The video was a part of WHA Virtual Relay.

Hope for Healthy Life Foundation (HohLiF)

In collaboration with the Nigeria Police Medical department, HohLiF organized a mini rally in one of the internally displaced person’s (IDP) camp at the Jauro Mgbadi Primary School in the capital city of the state where the IDP’s are camped. They also gave a health lecture on viral hepatitis to create awareness and sensitisation to the disease. In addition, they distributed condoms at the rally as a means of preventing the spread of viral hepatitis.

Two hundred and eight people were mobilized at the camp to be screened and tested for viral hepatitis B and C, of which only six were found to be positive with viral hepatitis B. They were referred to the Federal Medical Centre Jalingo for further investigation and treatment.

LiveWell Initiative (LWI) and Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA)

Due to a government law forbidding any gathering of more than 20 people across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LiveWell Initiative (LWI) and its subsidiary organisation Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA) hosted a webinar which was streamed to a socially-distanced in-person audience and to many people online. Sixty-six people attended LWI and WIHA‚Äôs webinar online and 20 women attended the face-to-face streaming of the webinar. The theme of the event was ‘Preventing mother to child transmission (PMTCT) by Finding the Missing Millions’ to reflect both the global theme of the WHA and the local theme of the African Hepatitis Alliance.

The in-depth event started with a live webinar which was streamed to a socially-distanced audience of women Hepatitis Champions who had been trained by LWI/WIHA the previous year. The webinar was also attended online by healthcare professionals, policy makers, patients, advocacy groups, and the general population.  Among the in-person attendees were indigenous women and women of the Riverine Makoko who had been transported to the venue by LWI in line with social distancing rules. The webinar had several speakers including a hepatologist, a gynaecologist, the founder of WIHA / CEO of LWI Bisi Bright and a family physician. It was a rich and eye-opening event. After the webinar, Mrs Bright travelled to the event venue and proceeded to donate food procured through LWI partner Flour Mills Nigeria PLC as a COVID resilience gesture to all attendees at the venue, after they had been screened for hepatitis and vaccinated.

Among the posters on display at the event were the African Women Hepatitis Poster titled ‘WE ARE MOTHERS…’ designed by the World Hepatitis Alliance and featuring low-income African Women, and a second Poster featuring high- and medium-income African women, created by WIHA.

The programme was very successful, and other subsequent screenings and vaccinations have been scheduled to continue at the LWI Health Post with social distancing measures. LWI plan to vaccinate at least 500 people over a period of three months due to COVID-19.

Women and Children Health Empowerment Foundation (WACHEF)

Women and Children Health Empowerment Foundation (WACHEF) conducted free hepatitis B and C testing and counselling to pregnant women who were attending antenatal clinics. Anyone who tested positive was referred for further support or treatment.

They also increased their social media activity to reach audiences online and help to find the missing millions.

Watch KnowHep Foundation Sierra Leone’s virtual relay video

Member Activity: Sierra Leone

KnowHep Foundation Sierra Leone

KnowHep Foundation Sierra Leone found that the COVID-19 pandemic opened up new avenues for raising awareness of viral hepatitis.

They ran a successful social media campaign and appeared on a number of radio and TV talk shows. They also engaged a range of celebrities; their local TV station hosted a live online concert with famous singers, as well as two awareness-raising drama series featuring celebrities.

KnowHep Foundation’s founder and CEO, Dr Manal Ghazzawi, also spoke on a number of educational webinars, and recorded a video for the WHA virtual relay.

Three major community pharmacies in central and Eastern parts of the capital city, Freetown, offered screening and vaccination for hepatitis B, and a further 70 medical students were tested and vaccinated.

KnowHep Foundation also forged a partnership with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health Hepatitis Task Force.

 

Watch the ‘Connecting with Care’ South Africa video

Watch TB HIV Care’s virtual relay video

Member activity: South Africa

TB HIV Care

In partnership with SANPUD and WHA member the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), TB HIV Care hosted a World Hepatitis Day webinar to launch the ‘Connecting with Care’ South Africa film and to highlight the impact COVID-19 has had on efforts to provide health services to people who use drugs.

The ‘Connecting with Care’ film, which was previewed at INHSU Africa in February 2020 and has received first prize in the Political and Civil Support Category of the Global Coalition for Hepatitis Elimination video competition for 2020, explores the experiences of people who use drugs, particularly in relation to viral hepatitis.

The webinar provided an opportunity to hear first-hand from participants in the film, some of whom are experts in treating viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C). In South Africa, people who use drugs are particularly hard hit by hepatitis, with one study finding that 45 per cent of people who inject drugs were living with hepatitis C.

TB HIV Care also participated in the World Hepatitis Day virtual relay, and posted across their social media channels.

Member Activity: Tanzania

Organization For Medical Outreach To Communities (OMOC)

As well as sharing lots of information across their social media channels, OMOC travelled to the Ministry of Health to sensitise the government about hepatitis and to advocate for funding for hepatitis testing. While the government has not yet committed to funding, they did produce a press release.

OMOC also recorded an interview with the health and promotions department of the Ministry of Health which was shared with patients in hospital waiting rooms to raise awareness of viral hepatitis.

Watch Great Lake Peace Centre’s Virtual Relay video


Member Activity: Uganda

Great Lakes Peace Centre

Great Lakes Peace Centre (GLPC) spent World Hepatitis Day raising awareness and offering testing and hepatitis B vaccination. They partnered with Bwera General Hospital in Kasese district to host an event for 30 pregnant women, as well as a number of health workers.

GLPC’s Health Promotion Officer, Arafat Bwambale, explained what World Hepatitis Day is and why it is important, and raised awareness around the WHO theme ‘Hepatitis Free Future’. He also educated the group about hepatitis transmission, with a particular focus on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of hepatitis B. The expectant mothers attending the event were given lots of advice to help reduce the risk of PMTCT. For example, they were advised to avoid giving birth at home with Traditional Birth Attendants, and to get vaccinated against hepatitis B.

During GLPC’s World Hepatitis Day events ‚ÄĒ which were attended by stakeholders including cultural and religious leaders and local officials ‚ÄĒ 230 people were screened for hepatitis and 220 were vaccinated against hepatitis B.

GLPC also raised awareness online, shared the #FindTheMissingMillions video at staff meetings and at a health facility, and hosted, presented and attended webinars.

 

The National Organisation for People Living with Hepatitis B (NOPLHB)

The National Organisation for People Living with Hepatitis B (NOPLHB) took to the airwaves to raise awareness of viral hepatitis. NOPLHB’s Executive Director, Kenneth Kabagambe, was interviewed on the radio and TV. Alongside colleagues from the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the President of the Uganda Gastroenterology Society, Kenneth also took part in a talk show on NBS Television, a station with more than a million Facebook fans.

Though a planned face-to-face event was unable to go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NOPLHB also increased their online and social media activity to raise awareness and help #FindTheMissingMillions.

Explore other regions' WHD activities