By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
The Kashim Ibrahim Fellows (KIF), a one-year leadership programme of the Kaduna State Government has screened and provided Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) counselling to 108 People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) at the state’s Rehabilitation Centre, Makera, Kaduna.
One of the KIF fellows, Abdulhakeem Miko, a human anatomist, said that the service which was free, was part of KIF’s five-day community service to sensitise and educate people on the dangers of HBV.
Miko explained that HBV was more infectious than HIV, adding, however, that only a few per cent of people infected with the virus were aware they were infected.
He said that PLWD, often excluded from scheme of things were among section of the people with high risk of contracting the virus, which could be transmitted through blood and body fluid.
“Because of their challenge, PLWD are vulnerable to all kind of sexual abuse and rape and could engage in all kinds of dangerous lifestyle like drugs, putting them at risk of contracting the virus.
“So, in our spirit of inclusion and ensuring that no one is left behind, we decided to bring these services to your doorstep instead of allowing you to come to us, which could be difficult.
“We do not only want you to know about HBV, but to also screen you so you will know your status and protect yourself if tested negative and refer you to a hospital if tested positive.
“Our goal is to ensure that people are aware of the virus, know their status and how to prevent contacting and spreading the virus as part of effort to curd the scourge of HBV in the country,” he said.
The PLWD, mostly teenagers, were thrilled and thanked KIF for the gesture, describing it as the first of its kind.
One of them, Jonathan Dangana, who is the Head Boy of the centre, said that this was the first time a group of people would consider them worthy of such a life-saving services.
Another student, Yakubu Abubakar, equally thanked the KIF for the gestures, saying “it makes us feel we belong and that someone out there, care for us.
“We want other organisations to emulate KIF and support Kaduna state government to meet the needs of people living with disabilities.”
The five-day long community service tagged “KIF against Hep-B” began on Monday with sensitisation, counselling and testing outreach to about 500 students of Kaduna Polytechnic.
On Tuesday, the group trained 120 hairdressers and barbers on universal precautionary measures and international best practices to prevent the spread of the virus.
The group, on Wednesday, further took their sensitisation campaign against the virus to Sheik Abubakar Gumi Central Market, Kaduna to reach as many people as they can with the life-saving information on HBV.
On Thursday, the fellows held a public lecture where issues around HBV were discussed by experts, policy makers, students and members of the public on the way forward.