Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation Concludes Medical Students’ Inoculation

Ms. Layal Kazouk, Dr. Ahmad Jo and other Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation members in picture with students of the A.M. Dogliotti Medical College students after one of the inoculations

The Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation (LNHF) has concluded the vaccination of the graduating students of the A.M. Dogliotti Medical College of the University of Liberia (UL). The future medical doctors have received their last dose of three rounds of Hepatitis B vaccines from the LNHF through Dr. Ahmad Jo’s Syriana Medical Clinic.

Following the recent inoculation, Ms. Layal Kazouh, M.P.H, told this paper that Hepatitis B, is endemic to Liberia and presents symptoms like those of malaria or typhoid and could therefore be mistaken for either of them if a patient neglects to do clinical laboratory test. Ms. Kazouh advised against self-medication and buying over-the-counter medicine, because it may lead to accelerated liver damage.

On Monday, June 5, 2017, she and her LNHF team had visited the Medical School campus and carried out awareness with the students.  The LNHF team then returned on June 9, 2017, to administer the first dose of the Hep B vaccines.

Explaining further, Ms. Kazouh told the students, that the Hepatitis B virus could survive outside the body for up to a week and during that time the virus can still cause an infection if it enters a person, who is not protected by the vaccine.

According to her, the Type B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth (vertical transmission), or through exposure to infected blood, especially from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first five years of life. The development of chronic infection is very common in infants infected from their mothers, or children by other means before the age of 5. Sexual transmission of Hepatitis B may occur, particularly in unvaccinated men who have sex with men and heterosexual persons with multiple sex partners.

Transmission of the virus may also occur through the reuse of razor blade or other cutting instruments such as those used for pedicure or manicure if not adequately sterilized. Also, the infection can occur during medical, surgical and dental procedures, through tattooing, toothbrushes, and similar objects contaminated with infected blood, as well as untested donated blood for transfusion.

Epidemiologist Kazouh stated that her Foundation targeted the medical students because, “They are directly on the frontlines. They need to be immunized to treat our sick population in the country.”

Fifty-eight (58) students of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine in Oldest Congo Town had been initially inoculated free of charge against the killer disease on that day. Only three injections are required for one’s lifetime dosage.

However, during the second and final vaccines administrations, the numbers dropped to 49 on July 14th 2017 and 30 students on December 18th 2017 respectively, due to miss communication on the part of the student leadership, which was always responsible for informing their colleagues on when the vaccination team will be arriving.

She stressed that the other students who had begun the vaccination and didn’t complete the three-round dosages would have to restart retaking the vaccine and this time around it would not be free of charge as was done in the past but they would be required to pay a minimum amount of US$10 per vaccine.

The LNHF has arranged with the Syriana Medical Clinic to reduce the price of a dose from US$20 to US$10 per vaccine. Also in the arrangement, the testing that is required before vaccination will be absolutely free to all Liberians. Ms. Kazouh urges everyone who can afford this to go to the Syriana Medical Clinic (SMC) located on 17th Street, Gibson Avenue Sinkor, to get tested and receive the vaccine if they are not infected. The Syriana Medical Clinic also offers treatment to those who are infected with Hepatitis B or C, it is important to remember that both types of Hepatitis B and C are non-curable but they can be suppressed to not harm the body so much.

She used the interview to plead with philanthropic institutions and individuals, etc., to provide her organization vaccines so that more people can be vaccinated against the disease as it is endemic to Liberia and not everyone can afford US$10 per dose, which will amount to US$30 over a period of 6 months. A lot of people in Liberia living on less than US$3 per day will not commit to such spending.

“Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation doesn’t have a donor. Everything that is done comes from our board members and founder’s purse. It’s hard to accomplish the dream of eradicating Hepatitis B from our tiny population of over 4 million when there is no support. So, I am pleading with goodwill people to please come and help the Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation help save lives in Liberia,” she pleaded.

Ms. Layal Kazouh established the Foundation to bring awareness and prevention to the population about the effects of Hepatitis as well as catering to those who are ill with the virus.

“Some people may experience symptoms of the illness that could last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pains, persistent headache, neck pain as well as abdominal pain,” Ms. Kazouh explained. She disclosed that jaundice (locally referred to as Yellow Janda) is a derivative of Hepatitis.

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