Nine die of hepatitis B in health risk zones

Nine people have died of hepatitis B in West Pokot in the past seven months, leading the county to be identified as a health risk zone.

Medics are in the region to vaccinate and sensitise the residents them locals after several cases of the viral disease were reported. 

The county executive committee member for Health, Geoffrey Lipale, told The Standard that 1,200 people had been vaccinated and that more than 5,000 were targeted this year.

Mr Lipale said Serewo, Chepareria, Chepkono, Nyangaita and three villages in Suam ward were high-risk zones and that 60 people in the areas had tested positive for hepatitis B.

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He said drugs were expensive and that the county would seek help from the national government.

"An infected person who does not get treatment for hepatitisB definitely dies within three months," he said.

He complained that the national government was slow in responding despite the letters written to the Ministry of Health requesting drugs.

A total of 122 cases of hepatitis B have been reported in West Pokot County in the past four years.

In 2017, 28 people, among them four health workers, were infected. Three people, including one health worker, died due to lack of medication. West Pokot County borders Uganda, where a number of people have been reported to be infected with the virus. 

Governor John Lonyangapuo said most patients were referred to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, which is about 300km away.

Prof Lonyangapuo said his administration planned to improve the health sector to reduce referrals to MTRH.

He said the county government was building a unit to offer CT scan, MRI and X-ray services.

“Hepatitis B is a rare disease. We have vaccinated all health workers and county staff and we want to move to hotspot areas,” he said.

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Hepatitis BWest PokotHealth