Sorry State of Hepatitis Management in Nigeria. Is the scene in India any different & better?

Posted by: admin on: May 1, 2012

Here is an experience given by a Nigerian about the ignorance of doctors in his country about hepatitis diagnosis and its management.


Let me start by declaring that I am writing under a pseudonym as I cannot stand the social implication of disclosing my health details in a public medium like this.
But in spite, I find it compelling to call attention to the dangerous state of medical knowledge in Nigeria, as experienced in the last three years of battling a chronic disease called Hepatitis B. Without prejudice to my respect for professionals in Nigeria, I owe it a duty as a concerned Nigerian to raise red flag on this.
I was diagnosed with Hepatitis B infection in 2009 after a suspicious doctor subjected me to the test in the process of treating conditions that bore resemblance to malaria in his hospital. As is expected of any educated person (although most educated Nigerians don’t do this, unfortunately) I did further research on the disease, especially as it is a condition that is, for now, more realistically managed than cured.
I joined a number of global health discussion forums on the internet and met co-patients, doctors, as well as researchers from across the world where we interacted extensively on the disease. Within weeks, I realized even the doctor that diagnosed me is no longer in the same page with me in our discussions. I changed doctors and hospitals, and the story remains the same. Except two of the consultants I met, every other doctor I met in more than 10 otherwise highly rated hospitals in Lagos knew practically nothing about Hepatitis management, other than how it is tested and a few basic things about it…
The doctor cannot make any meaning of the tests: Hepatitis B surface antigen quantification (Hbsag quantification), Hepatitis B viral load, Fibroscan and Vitamin d level. But more unpardonable is the doctor’s statement that Hepatitis B. like A, is caused by intake of contaminated foods. Fibroscan is the latest technology to detect at its early stage Liver damage called liver fibrosis and its advanced form called Cirrhosis. No laboratory has this technology in Nigeria and that is the only Liver monitoring test I have not done in the last three years. Hbsag quantification is the test that shows the quantity of the virus in the infected person’s blood, but my experience with the only laboratory that clams to do it in Nigeria is rather suspicious. I I have met many Doctors that had never heard of anything called Fibroscan before.
Most Nigerian doctors still do not know that ultrasound scan can only detect carcinoma but can never isolate fibrosis until it gets very advanced in which case it would have become almost impossible to reverse. This is what Fibroscan does. I am not saying that ultrasound scan is not useful for hepatitis-induced liver condition monitoring, but Nigerian doctors and laboratories will do well by bringing themselves up to date with latest developments in medical technology and treatment.
By far the most dangerous is the ease with which doctors in Nigeria dismiss
Hepatitis and tell patients not to worry about it; that they should just forget about it. instead of the doctor telling one of my friends with Hepatitis B to be doing annual check on his liver, he was told to forget about it, that it was harmless.
A very pitiable state of affairs!


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