A medical officer at Health Essentials Ghana, Dr. Nafisah Alhassan, has urged organisations to take keen interest in the Hepatitis B status of their staff; failure to do so could be catastrophic in the future.
According to Dr. Alhassan, people are encouraged to know their Hepatitis B status, it is important for their employers to assist those who fail to do so because, they [employers] could become the biggest losers when disaster strikes.
The medical officer was speaking Friday, April 12, when some 300 staff from Zoom Domestic Services Limited - a house-to-house waste collection service provider - and Rural Waste Limited, both subsidiaries of Zoomlion Ghana, organised screening for about 300 of its staff of the Hepatitis B disease in Accra.
Dr. Nafisah Alhassan
She said over 500 million people worldwide are living with the disease and one out of every 14 persons is positive, hence the need for such exercise by every concerned organisation.
She added that persons who know their status are able to manage their lives properly and become effective in the workplace.
Essence of screening
Commenting on the exercise, Human Capital Manager of Zoom Domestic Services, Mrs. Doris Adjei, noted that kind of work the staff of the company are engaged in, exposes them to all kinds of diseases and so it was strategic that the exercise was conducted.
"You know it is prudent that you do not toy with the lives and wellbeing of employees which is what basically informed management's decision to organise the screening programme.”
She said the exercise will also lead to a reduction in the company’s medical costs as well as reduce incidents of absenteeism of staff due to ill health.
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that affects the liver. It can cause both acute and chronic infections. Many people have no symptoms during the initial infection.
Some develop a rapid onset of sickness with vomiting, yellowish skin, tiredness, dark urine and abdominal pain. Often these symptoms last a few weeks and rarely does the initial infection result in death. It may take 30 to 180 days for symptoms to begin.
In those who get infected around the time of birth 90% develop chronic hepatitis B while less than 10% of those infected after the age of five do. Most of those with chronic disease have no symptoms; however, cirrhosis and liver cancer may eventually develop.
These complications result in the death of 15 to 25% of those with chronic disease.
The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids.
Infection around the time of birth or from contact with other people's blood during childhood is the most frequent method by which hepatitis B is acquired in areas where the disease is common.