BACKGROUND: The prevalence of Hepatitis B across all populations in Uganda is estimated to be greater than 4%. In 2020, we led a study screening the general public for Hepatitis B in the Sub-County surrounding our Bugoye Field Office. The study identified a prevalence exceeding 10% in many of the villages, and a 5% prevalence among pregnant women presenting to Health Centers for antenatal care. These patients were previously unaware of their infection, as are the majority of patients across the country living with Hepatitis B.
As a result, they were not benefiting from available treatments or interventions to reduce transmission to their family and community members or prevent complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Given the prevalence identified in our study, and in other studies across the country, there are unquestionably untold numbers of individuals currently living with undiagnosed and untreated Hepatitis B.
Establishing a Hep B Clinic
INTERVENTION & FUTURE DIRECTION: For those patients with Hepatitis B identified in our initial study, we have established a treatment and monitoring program utilizing our network of existing partner Health Centers.
To better serve the community at large and address this previously neglected disease we have led discussions with the District Health Office (DHO) and other stakeholders to identify current services and gaps in care. We have harmonized our efforts with existing healthcare capacity and anticipate launching the first comprehensive Hepatitis B clinic in the Kasese District in 2023 with community and government support. This clinic will serve a district-wide population of several hundred thousand to improve access to Hepatitis B education, screening, monitoring, treatment, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.