The program to eliminate Hepatitis B and C from Niue has started with the Niue health department. Dr. Eddie Akauola says that Niue is very fortunate to be chosen for this program which is the initiative of a Hepatitis campaigner Hazel Heal from Dunedin, New Zealand.
Heal along with Australian doctor Dr. James Freeman have been in communication with the Niue health department over the past months planning and organising the rollout of this campaign.
Director of Health Dr. Akauola says that all the test kits and forms have arrived so they have started screening for the disease in the local adult population. He told BCN news that there was a screening for Hepatitis previously and found ten adults on the island who have Hepatitis so they will be treated as part of this program.
Head of Public Health Grizelda Mokoia says that the aim is to eliminate Hepatitis from Niue and their aim is to have the results reveal on the 29th of July which is International Hepatitis Day.
The campaign needs everyone on the island over the age of eighteen, estimated to be 1,200 to register and get their tests done and to complete a questionnaire form which can be done either in Vagahau or English. Once you have completed the questionnaire you will receive a shopping voucher to one of the supermarkets of the island, Swansons, courtesy of Ms. Hazel Heal and her campaign team including professors from Otago University and Dr. James Freeman from Tasmania, Australia.
Dr. Akauola told BCN news that the treatment for Hepatitis is very expensive at around $100,000 for a twelve weeks treatment course so he is encouraging the adults on the island to get yourselves tested. Hepatitis can lead on to very serious chronic liver disease or liver cancer.
If this campaign is successful in the screening and treating of Hepatitis, Niue will be the first country to be cured of the disease. If that is the case, then this will be the second time the Niue Health department has eliminated a disease from the island in recent years. In 2017 the World Health Organisation awarded Niue for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis.
After Niue, the campaign hopes to move on to another Pacific island to do the same program aiming to eliminate Hepatitis from another Pacific nation.