Tanzania to Host Sixth Conference on Liver Disease in Africa to Meet Global Strategies

Dr. John Rwegasha, Chairperson COLDA and Director of Medical Services at Muhimbili NH (in a black coat), with co-workers and members of COLDA organizing committee 

Africa- Tanzania is expected to host the sixth Conference on Liver Diseases in Africa (COLDA).

It will be held in Dar es Salaam, in September this year.

The disclosure was made by the Chairperson of the conference, the national organizing committee, who also is a Director of Medical Services at Muhimbili National Hospital Dr John Rwegasha.

COLDA 2023 aims at empowering healthcare professionals (HCPs) to diagnose, prevent, treat, and achieve a cure for liver diseases for the benefit of patients in Africa.

The conference is expected to bring together Gastroenterologists (specialists in diagnosing and treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract), Hepatologists (specialists in treating diseases of the liver), Radiologists ( specialists in creating and interpreting pictures of areas inside the body using X-rays, sound waves, etc) and experts in Policy, Planning, and Advocacy.

“We are certain that the conference will act as a catalyst for translating science into clinical practice while promoting medical education in the field of hepatology and setting up collaborations within the African region. Everyone will have an exceptional opportunity to share and acquire knowledge, and experience a wide spectrum of topics related to liver disease” Dr Rwegasha said.

About the burden of liver disease in Tanzania and Africa, Dr. Rwegasha told reporters that the liver and biliary system is divided into three groups of diseases which include communicable such as Viral Hepatitis Infections, and non-communicable such as Alcohol Liver Diseases, Fatty Liver Diseases, and Opportunistic such as Liver Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

According to Dr Rwegasha, four people out of a hundred, live with serious liver infection (Hepatitis B), and this number may double for those living in unfriendly environments including drug users.

Statistics from Muhimbili National Hospital show that liver cancer is the second most common cancer, more than 60 percent of all cancer-related diseases. It is the seventh most common, and the third most common cause of cancer mortality.

Also, a report from the First Tanzania Liver Cancer Conference (17 – 18 March 2023), shows that a nationwide study on cancer mortality in 39 hospitals throughout the country found that liver cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death, next to cancer of the cervix and cancer of the esophagus.

Excerpt from the report, “It is estimated that HCC (Hepatocellular carcinoma) is responsible for 75%–85% of all liver cancer cases globally, While in Tanzania the exact incidence is unknown, a report of 142 HCC cases from Bugando Hospital in Tanzania, published in 2014 demonstrated that most HCC cases presented at a late stage and no patients received curative therapy.”

The conference is expected to build awareness among local healthcare providers on the status of liver cancer in Tanzania and the available diagnostic and management options and to update Tanzanian healthcare providers on the current standard of care for liver cancer provided in developed countries and recent advancements in liver cancer care.

It will also promote an inclusive and multidisciplinary approach to research and the clinical care of patients with liver cancer in Tanzania.
Experts will share their knowledge on the latest developments and achievements in the management of viral hepatitis and liver disease with a special focus on the African context.

Considering the burden of liver-related diseases, especially Hepatitis B, the Word Health Assembly (WHA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) set the Millennium Global health strategy to end Hepatitis B by 2030.

By Mutayoba Arbogast, K-NEWS Tanzania Contributor

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