Before COVID-19, the health system of Burkina Faso was already struggling with various infectious diseases like malaria, meningitis, tuberculosis, and acute respiratory infections. Hepatitis B is a chronic viral disease that continues to cost the lives of thousands of children in Burkina Faso every year.
Lavy and his twin brother, Davy, didn’t get a chance to do blood testing and know their health status as they grow. Like the twins, most children don't know if they might infect others or become infected by the virus. Most of the time, people discover that they have been carrying the virus of hepatitis B when it is too late to cure. Paying for screening and vaccination is a major obstacle for Lavy’s parents. Agnes, the twins' mother, earn an income from sewing, but her business dropped since the hit of COVID-19. Their father relies on part-time jobs to provide for his family.
Despite the introduction of universal vaccination in 2006 in Burkina Faso for babies, the prevalence rate of hepatitis B in Burkina Faso remains high. Therefore, urgent actions focus on controlling the disease in the general population as well as in specific groups more at risk of the infection.
Compassion provides care for children living in poverty through special attention to prevention and raising awareness among caregivers to prevent kids like Lavy from getting hepatitis B. Eight-year-old Lavy received a screening at the child development center before getting his immunization to prevent hepatitis B. Lavy is now protected against HBV (hepatitis B virus) infection that can cause long-term liver damage, liver cancer and cirrhosis. Lavy can grow healthy and study hard to fulfill his dreams. “I want to become a medical doctor when I grow up to heal the sick,” says Lavy.
Agnes is thankful for the support amid the pandemic to provide screening and vaccines for Lavy and Davy. She says, “I am a proud mother today because the twins received their vaccine at the center to be safe from hepatitis B that costs the lives of many kids. The support of the center is amazing, and I am more than thankful for all the support amid the pandemic.”