Management of Hepatitis in Ghana

Editor’s Note: This is the first of many blog posts from Theobald Owusu-Ansah, a Hepatitis activist in Ghana and the founder of the Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation.

Last year, a lady called and told me that she has tested positive for HBV and wanted to know if there is a treatment. I asked her about where the test was done and she replied that she went to a private clinic for the test. I told her to do the test again at any government hospital, polyclinic or any accredited laboratory because I wanted a second opinion and to be sure of the diagnosis. A week later, she called to inform me that the result of the new test shows negative. I did not believe her so I asked her to send me the result through the post, which she did. It was true so I told her to go for another test, which she did and the result of the latest test was negative. I don’t want to mention the name of the clinic involved. But the question I always ask is that: what kits did the clinic use for the test? There are a lot of laboratories in Ghana and we don’t know which ones are good, and which are bad. So always be circumspect!

Because most of our medical doctors in Ghana are general practitioners, and are not hepatologists or liver specialists the treatment of HBV patients has not been efficient and effective. I know of cases where some doctors even prescribe supplements to HBV patients. Most HBV patients are not treated with conventional medicines which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Some of doctors prescribe or treat HBV with medications like livolin forte, live52 and other Chinese medicine. These are not traditional medications for HBV. Rather, they are supplements, which are not regulated by FDA or WHO. The ingredients of such medications are not known and there are no studies backing the claims they make.

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