National, News

Hepatitis Killing half population-Yolanda

By William Madouk


National Minister of Health has expressed concern over a potential health crisis caused by the Hepatitis virus.

Yolanda Awel Deng, while speaking during signing of a $167 million grant for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, warned that the country could face a catastrophic situation due to the spread of the deadly virus, if proactive measures are not taken.

According to the minister, while funding is directed to other diseases, another major health threat that is killing half of the population is Hepatitis viruses.

“Now the population is dying of hepatitis, hepatitis is killing almost half of the population in South Sudan,” said Awel.

The minister described symptoms of the deadly disease and advised people to seek medical attention.

“You get sick, you vomit blood or you feel you’re not feeling well – you go to hospital and they got that you Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis E, and all sort of hepatitis,” said added.

According to Awel, although funds were availed to address HIV, still there is a looming health threat like Hepatitis that needs the government’s intervention by allocating enough resources.

“So, now we are talking here today about HIV but we have got another looming crisis that we are not talking about, so that means that we need more funding and that funding has to come in through the government,” she noted.

She urged the government to prioritize the health sector by allocating more funds to ensure that South Sudanese are healthy.

“The government has to come in through different means, especially domestic funding. your excellency [VP Hussein Abdelbagi] it is our responsibility the government of South Sudan to be taking care of our own health – it is the donors are filling in the gap,” Awel noted.

For instance, in April last year, the government announced an outbreak of Hepatitis in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, after 91 suspected cases were noted, out of which 35 were positive while five people died.

World Health Organisation (WHO) noted on its report published on May 5, 2023 that cases of hepatitis E virus have been reported in Bentiu camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) since 2018.  Seasonal upsurges are reported yearly, particularly during the rainy season due to floods leading to contamination of drinking water.

According to the report, there is a risk of international spread of the disease as South Sudan shares borders with Sudan and Ethiopia, with substantial traffic between them.

On September 5, 2020, WHO noted that over 71 million Africans with chronic viral hepatitis, 300 people die daily from liver cancer and other complications related to hepatitis B and C infections.

Lately, the Director-General of the Directorate of Nationality, Civil Registry, Passport, and Immigration, Maj. Gen. Simon Majur, stated that there is an outbreak of hepatitis, which is leading to the loss of lives of many police officers.

Majur said the disease had been prevalent among the police force since his tenure in the immigration directorate in 2018.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis E is an illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV), a virus that can infect both animals and humans.

In the vast majority of people, HEV infection results in a self-limited, acute illness. However, acute infection can become chronic in rare cases, primarily in people who have received solid organ transplants.

CDC notes that Hepatitis E, like all other forms of hepatitis, is contagious, and the virus occurs in the stool of a person with the infection. Consuming infected fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, can transmit the virus.

This can occur through eating or drinking contaminated food or water and can be transferred from the pregnant mother to the child.

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