Medical School Students Grateful For Free Hepatitis B Vaccine


Monrovia – Ms. Layal Kazouh, founder of the Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation was the first to take the Hepatitis B vaccine before the students of the Medical School began taking it

Dr. Ahmad Jo, who is administering the vaccine to a female student of the UL Medical School, provided the vaccines to the Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation free of charge and volunteered to administer it

Dr. Ahmed Jo, being assisted by an aid performed the routine before administering the Hepatitis B vaccine to male of AM Dogliotti Medical College

Fifty-eight students of the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicines of the University of Liberia, on Friday, June 9th, expressed their gratefulness to the Liberia National Hepatitis Foundation (LNHF), for generously vaccinating them against the Hepatitis B virus.

The vaccine was donated by a heart surgeon at the Catholic Hospital, Dr. Ahmad Jo.

Dr. Jo, himself volunteered to administer the vaccine to the students, who joined the LNHF to express how thankful they are for the donation as it enabled them to see their wish come through by moving on step closer to making Liberia Hepatitis free.

The 59 students, who took the vaccines, are expected to take the second dose a month following their first inoculation on the same date as the first one.

Presenting the dangers of Hepatitis, especially Type B, Ms. Layal Kazouh, founder of the LNHF, who has the Master’s degree in Epidemiology, said the LNHF is focused on it because it is endemic in Liberia.

She said the disease presents symptoms like those of malaria or typhoid; therefore, it could be mistaken for either of them if a patient neglects to do clinical laboratory test.

She further stated that the medical school students are going to be required to complete their lifetime Hepatitis B vaccine with the last prescription within seven months, including the first and second doses. Only three doses are required for one’s lifetime.

Epidemiologist Kazouh said the Foundation had targeted the medical students because “They are on the frontlines.”

She also added that they need to be fully equipped so they can treat sick people, who they will encounter.

Ms. Kazouh advised against treating oneself and buying over-the-counter medicine because it may lead to other complications, including accelerated liver damage.

Before she and her team had gone on the main campus of the University of Liberia Medical School to administer the vaccines, she had had interactions with the students, during which she shared some knowledge with them about the virus.

She had promised them that her organization was going to go back Friday, July 9th to administer the vaccines, which will protect them against the virus. 

She told them that she established the Foundation to bring awareness and education to the population about the effects of Hepatitis and how to avoid contracting it.

“Some people may experience symptoms of the illness that could last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pains, persistent headache, neck pain as well as abdominal pain,” Ms. Kazouh explained.

She disclosed that jaundice (locally referred to as Yellow Janda) is a derivative of Hepatitis.

Explaining further, Ms. Kazouh said Hepatitis B virus could survive outside the body for up to a week and during that time the virus can still cause an infection if it enters the body of a person who is not protected by the vaccine.

Type B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth (vertical transmission), or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood), especially from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first five years of life.

The development of chronic infection is very common in infants infected from their mothers, or by other means before the age of 5.

Hepatitis B is spread through exposure to infected blood and various bodily fluids, such as saliva, sweat and menstrual, vaginal, and seminal fluids.

Sexual transmission of Hepatitis B may occur, particularly in unvaccinated men who have sex with men and heterosexual persons with multiple sex partners or through contact with sex workers.

Transmission of the virus may also occur through the reuse of needles and syringes either in health-care settings or among persons who inject drugs.

Also, the infection can occur during medical, surgical and dental procedures, through tattooing, dirty toilets and bath places, toothbrushes or the use of razors and similar objects contaminated with infected blood, as well as untested donated blood for transfusion.

Ms. Kazouh told both Pre-Clinical and Clinical students, of the five years Medical program, that she had conceived the idea of forming the Foundation in 2014 while writing her Public Health (MPH) dissertation on Hepatitis B.

She was particularly touched by the death of her half-sister in 2011 due to liver cirrhosis caused by Hepatitis B. She warned that the Hepatitis B virus could cause a chronic liver infection that can later develop into liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Due to the lack of adequate information on Hepatitis B, she became very concerned, especially when she began to talk to people about Hepatitis B, and realized that the level of awareness among the people was almost non-existent.

It became apparent to her that she must do something about it, which led her to establish the Foundation and doing all she can to spread awareness of the disease.

Speaking to our Health Desk on the day of the administration of the vaccine, the Liberia Medical Students Association President, Mr. John S. Yarngrorble, expressed how grateful they are to the Foundation for providing a means to be protected against one of the killer diseases.

Explaining further their joy, Mr. Yarngrorble stated that a dose of the vaccine costs US$20.00 (L$2300.00 at prevailing exchange rate of L$115 to US$1.00), multiplying this amount by three would be US$60.00 (L$6,900.00), which is a substantial amount for any ordinary Liberians in these difficult and hard economy times.

However, some students in the Clinical Division were heard complaining that they are the ones who are now exposed out there to patients in various hospitals so they are the ones who should be the one to get the vaccine at the moment.

Unfortunately, the Medical Students Association President said his colleagues whose names were forwarded to the Foundation for the vaccines are those who came to several called meetings to announce that a team from the Liberia Hepatitis Foundation was going come to administer the vaccines to them.

After the process, Ms. Kazouh, who herself was the first to take the vaccine, handed the Foundation’s T-shirts to the students.

The LNHF can be contacted at [email protected]