An Open Letter to the Minister of Health

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An Open Letter to the Minister of Health

The Minister of Health
Dr. Austin Demby
27th June 2024

Dear Dr. Demby,


My name is Dr. Manal Ghazzawi and I am writing on behalf of KnowHep Foundation Sierra Leone, with the support of the World Hepatitis Alliance.

It’s World Hepatitis Day’s on 28 July and I am writing to urge you to support the fight against this accelerating epidemic. Hepatitis is now the world’s second deadliest virus, after COVID-19. Every year, 1.3 million people lose their lives to hepatitis – and the new World Health Organization Global Hepatitis Report says the number of deaths is rising.

More than 1 million Sierra Leoneans are living with viral hepatitis. The majority are unaware of their status, and since testing and treatment remain beyond reach for most, they will not know until it is too late. More than a third will have their lives cut short by liver cancer or other forms of liver disease.

There is a cure for hepatitis C and a vaccine and effective treatment for hepatitis B, but our health programmes are not sufficiently funded; stigma and discrimination prevent many from accessing services; and millions of our most vulnerable citizens are being left behind. There is a short window of action available between 2024 and 2026 to regain the trajectory needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

We call on the ministry of health and sanitation to prioritise viral hepatitis elimination in the following ways:
Promote greater public and political awareness of the importance of viral hepatitis B and C prevention, testing and treatment.
Promote free testing for all pregnant females attending antenatal care and the immediate introduction of the hepatitis B birth dose
Substantially increase access to testing in community and health facility-based services
Provide high-quality, evidence-based and affordable, people-centred hepatitis care services and prevention programmes
Address stigma and discrimination faced by populations most affected by hepatitis in healthcare setting and in society as a whole
Strengthen community and civil society involvement in hepatitis programmes and create innovative partnership to drive change.

We look forward to your support this World Hepatitis Day and in the future. It’s time for action.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Manal Ghazzawi
CEO/founder Knowhep Foundation Sierra Leone

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