Interview with Ahmed Fuseini, Co-Founder of DRE-AM Ghana and Biomedical Scientist at Health First Medical Services, Bolgatanga.

“Our seminars are helping people understand the dangers of hepatitis B and why it is important to go for a test and receive vaccination against the disease.” Ahmed Fuseini, DRE-AM Ghana.

On 26th June, 2016, DRE-AM Ghana organized a health seminar on hepatitis B at the St John’s Catholic Church in Gambidgo, Upper East Region. The purpose of the outreach was to educate the Church, which had recently lost a member through Hepatitis B, about the cause, risk factors, prevention, treatment and management of Hepatitis B.

We were happy to interview the Lead Health Presenter, Mr Ahmed Denkeri Fuseini, after the outreach. Mr Fuseini is a Biomedical Scientist at Health First Medical Services, Bolgatanga and Co-founder of DRE-AM Ghana, an NGO that specializes in science and health outreach in Ghana.

Please read the interview below.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is usually asymptomatic as such most infected individuals have no idea they are infected with the virus. Hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least 7 days. During that time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not infected. It is transmitted through contact with infected body fluids.

What are ways Hepatitis B is not spread?

Sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing cannot spread Hepatitis B.

Who is at risk for Hepatitis B?

It is important to note that anyone can get Hepatitis B. However, some individuals may be at a greater risk. These include those who:

  1. Have sex with an infected person
  2. Have multiple sex partners
  3. Have a sexually transmitted disease
  4. Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment
  5. Live with a person who has chronic Hepatitis B
  6. Are exposed to blood on the job (such as nurses and doctors)
  7. Travel to countries with moderate to high rates of Hepatitis B

Infants born to infected mothers, and men who have sexual contact with other men are also at greater risk of being infected with Hepatitis B.

How common is chronic Hepatitis B in the world?

According to the World Health Organization, about 240 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B (defined as hepatitis B surface antigen positive for at least 6 months). More than 780, 000 people die every year due to complications of hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

How common is the disease among health workers?

Hepatitis B is a common occupational hazard for health workers. Observational studies I have carried out over the years working in a medical lab indicates that at least 1 out of every 10 individuals test positive to Hepatitis B.

Are there any challenges with your health outreach? What plans are underway to improve DRE-AM health education on Hepatitis B?

Our current outreaches are more of seminars or health talks. Some of the challenges we have include sponsorship and funding to run Hepatitis B tests. We were not able to run tests for the St John’s Catholic Church because of limited funding. However, our seminars are helping people understand the dangers of hepatitis B and why it is important to go for a test and receive vaccination against the disease. For instance, the leadership of the St John’s Catholic Church are making plans to screen its members and undertake a vaccination exercise after our seminar.

Another challenge we face in our outreach programs is communication in the local languages. In this particular outreach it was difficult to communicate in Grune but we were able to organize a translator to help with the smooth dissemination of the information.

Below are some pictures from the June 2016 Health seminar on Hepatitis B at the St John’s Catholic Church in Gambidgo.

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