Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the National Hypertension Association, has
disclosed that some personnel of The Gambia Armed Force (GAF), who are
suffering from hypertension are subjected to discrimination and denied
participation in peace keeping missions especially in the Sudanese troubled
region of Darfur.
Saidou Sowe made this remarks over the weekend during commemorations marking World Hepatitis Day at the Westfield Youth Monument.
“We received lots of complaints with regard to some personnel of the GAF who are being denied to participate in peacekeeping mission in Darfur for the fact that they are hypertension patients, while others with HIV/AIDS are allow to participated such mission,” he queried.
The association, he said, was formed in 2016 when there was a need to increase awareness on hypertension, with the objectives of working with the government together with other stakeholders.
“Our aims among others are to ensure that whoever is suffering from the virus has access to treatment when necessary with a view to preventing liver damage and liver cancer which have claimed the lives of many young Gambians.”
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammed Lamin Jaiteh, said the day provided all stakeholders and partners the opportunity to work in the area of hypothesis to talk about the disease, their work and what more needs to be done to promote prevention, diagnosis and treatment in order to achieve the global elimination goal by 2030.
He indicated that vital hypertension infection, is a widely spread disease affecting 400 million people worldwide and over 10 times the number of people infected with HIV, saying that about 1.4 million people die each year.
PS Jaiteh noted that it is estimated that it is only 5% of people suffering from chronic hepatitis know of their infection and less than 1% have access to treatment.
In The Gambia, he continued, nearly 1 in every 10 individuals is infected with hepatitis B virus. “Liver cancer due to hepatitis B virus is the leading cause of death of young Gambian men in their most productive ages.”
Dr. Desta. A. Tiruneh, the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, said the first Global Hepatitis Report produced by the WHO in 2017 shows that there were approximately 325 million people living with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infections at the end of 2015. “This is a burden 10 times greater than the HIV Epidemic.”
The WHO country rep explained further that in The Gambia where nearly 10% of ‘our population is infected with hepatitis B, we need to scale up testing and treatment to everyone who has it and we must ensure that safe health care is provided’.
Dr. Ramou Njie, Hepatologist Liver Specialist and Head of Gambia Hepatitis Intervention Study, noted that in The Gambia Hypertension B is ‘our’ problem, revealing that the Gambia hypertension intervention study was set-up as a joint collaboration between the WHO International Agency for Research and Cancer, The Gambia government and MRC in order to quantify the problem. It was also meant to explore and come up potential solution.