We've been neglected, say Hepatitis patients

Hepatitis B vaccination. [Standard]
A combination of factors has complicated the treatment of Hepatitis B that has ravaged parts of the county.

There are even reports that several people have died due to lack of medical care.

Lack of awareness among residents on the causes and treatment options for the viral disease has also been cited as a major challenge.

Areas affected by the disease are remote, making access difficult for health personnel. Residents are also unable to reach the hospitals due to lack of transport.

SEE ALSO :Widow fights for benefits of nurse who got Hepatitis B

The most affected villages are Nginyang, Kalabata, Ayatya, Kimnai and Kaboskei.

In parts of Baringo North and Baringo South, residents are accusing the county government of neglecting them.

In addition, there is lack of data on those infected with the disease, which causes cirrhosis and liver cancer among other conditions.

There are also reports that the few who are lucky to access medication rarely get the full dose due to financial constraints.

Kaboskei Chief Richard Chepchieng said 50 people had died in the area in the recent past.

SEE ALSO :War on hepatitis can only be won through public awareness

"But the number could be higher because we do not have proper records," he said.

Mr Chepchieng said most residents could not afford the Sh2,400 public hospitals charge for treatment. The vaccination is given in three phases, each costing Sh800. Private Hospitals charge up to Sh1, 200 per dose. 

"I have written to the county health executive and the ward administrator over the matter but all they have done is make promises. We were hoping the county government would open records for those affected to make treatment easy but this has not happened," he said.

Zipporah Komen, a resident, said some people did not even know they were suffering from the disease.

"Sometimes, we only get to learn someone is suffering from Hepatitis B when it is too late. We have lost many people yet the county government is not doing anything," she said.

Luka Kiptoon said he was diagnosed last year.

"I am still weak but I was lucky to be able to sell 10 goats to raise the money for treatment at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH)," he said.

Reuben Kipsetim said he was discharged two weeks ago after being hospitalised since February.

Last October, the county rolled out a vaccination programme but not all those targeted were covered as they could not afford the vaccine.

In 2014, Joseph Chemwetich, an anaesthetist at MTRH, volunteered to vaccinate locals. He was able to vaccinate 600 people, charging Sh500 per person and Sh275 per child. But many still could not afford the fee.

"Even worse, most of the patents did not know they had the disease," said Dr Chemwetich.

"Most patients travel to MTRH, about 250km away, to get medical care."

County Health Chief Officer Winnie Bore said the county government was in the process of procuring up to 19,000 vials for vaccination.

"We are currently mapping out affected areas in Mogotio, Barwessa, Ayatya, Marigut, Kinyach and other parts of Baringo North and along Kerio Valley ahead of vaccination," Dr Bore said, adding that many hospitals lacked testing kits.

"That is why some patients have to travel all the way to MTRH. However, this is being sorted out and we will start vaccinating patients in two weeks."

Bore said they would also conduct civic education to equip residents with correct information about the disease.

She said the prevalence of Hepatitis B in the county was currently 12 per cent, according to a recent study. This is higher than the 5 per cent the World Health Organisation views as manageable.

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Hepatitis BBaringo NorthBaringo SouthHealthcareHepatitis patientsWorld Health Organisation