Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has lauded the contributions of Livewell Initiative (LWI) and its subsidiary, Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA), for their efforts towards eliminating viral hepatitis in the country through advocacy, screening, vaccination and empowerment of women and children, noting that the different types of hepatitis cause more than one million death annually.
Mrs. Ambode, was represented by Mrs. Oladunni Ogunbanwo, head of publicity, office of the first lady, at the inauguration of Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA) Regional Conference, held at Protea Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. She however admitted that the challenge of eradicating the disease has remained a tall order for mankind, adding that the global search for strategies to subdue the scourge, especially in women and children has necessitated the conference.
According to the First Lady, the effort put in place by the Livewell Initiative and Women in Hepatitis Africa, by taking up the challenge to confront the scourge through mass awareness, enlightenment and public education to save as many women and children as possible, has paid off with positive impact on almost two million Nigerians with health literacy and empowerment.
Speaking further, Mrs. Ambode, who was the guest of honour at the two-day event, also advised participants to show more interest in knowing their health status, saying some types of hepatitis are preventable, while some are treatable with proper medications. Hence the need for people to be well enlightened about the disease.
“In preventing hepatitis, it is instructive from the awareness we have had overtime that we must observe a healthy lifestyle, by moderating alcohol consumption, taking healthy diet, engaging in physical activities, encouraging weight loss and immunization among others. So, what is important is early knowledge of our health status as early management of hepatitis or any other disease is very important”, she remarked.
Commending LWI and WIHA for networking with groups across the continent, to tackle the dreaded disease, saying the effort has got them a well-deserved mention by the United Nations and as well recognition from home and abroad.
Earlier, in her welcome address, the Vice President, Livewell Initiative (LWI), and founder, Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA), Pharm. (Mrs) Bisi Bright, noted that the group was launched April this year with a vision to eliminate viral hepatitis in Africa by the year 2030, through advocacy, screening, vaccination and empowerment, saying it shared same vision with Women in High Places (WIHP), which is a network of global women leaders in medicine, academic research, government, industry, and consumer or patient advocacy, with a common interest in special diseases.
According to her, the idea of forming a similar but all-encompassing body was nursed by her after returning to Nigeria last year from WIHP conference in New York City, USA, where about forty women leaders convened to discuss their unique roles in addressing the global challenges of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and liver cancer.
“So, after returning, a few stakeholders were consulted including the WIHP members abroad, and thereafter, the Women in Hepatitis Africa (WIHA), was formed and inaugurated during the LWI Liver Health Conference in Lagos, Nigeria.”
The Keynote Speaker, Dr Olusola Akinola, director, Federal Ministry of Health, who noted that the conference came at the right time, however urged the government and other stakeholders to help create more awareness about hepatitis, the way we are doing to HIV/AIDS.
The conference was attended by dignitaries including, Dr (Mrs) Ganiyat Oyeleke, consultant hepatologist, LUTH; Dr Charles Onyekwere, chief consultant hepatologist, LASUTH.