Meet Danjuma Adda, WHA's new president
Danjuma Adda, a hepatitis advocate based in Nigeria, has been appointed as the president of WHA. hepVoice sat down with Danjuma at the end of 2020 to get his reaction to his appointment and discuss his hopes for the elimination of hepatitis by 2030.
What first motivated you to become a hepatitis advocate?
When I tested positive for hepatitis B, I questioned why is PReP therapy for HIV is available in my region, but not the hepatitis B vaccine, which would have stopped me from getting hepatitis B. It didn’t seem fair.
Then I lost my mother to hepatitis C, she was diagnosed too late. I realised there was a huge knowledge gap, even among medical professionals. If she had been diagnosed sooner my mum would probably be alive today to see her four beautiful grandchildren.
I didn’t want others to suffer the same pain I had at losing my mum. I realised that, as a community, we need to raise awareness and fill the knowledge gap and the service delivery gap. I thought about what I could do to bridge this gap, which motivated me to become an advocate.
How important is it for people living with hepatitis to speak out?
Only people living with viral hepatitis understand the impact of hepatitis including the stigma and discrimination. It takes courage to speak out, but we are in the best position to advocate for our health and to ask for help from policymakers for our communities.
What motivated you to apply to become president?
I see myself as a child of WHA, almost everything I have learned about being an advocate is from WHA. When I was elected as WHA board member for Africa in 2014, it opened up a lot of opportunities for me to speak on behalf of people living with viral hepatitis in Africa.
I lost my mother to hepatitis C. I didn’t want others to suffer the same pain I had at losing my mum.
Coming from a marginalised population with very little funding for hepatitis, it is the right time to bring light to the situation here in Africa. There is a need to reflect the real issues of people in this part of the world, such as walking 5 hours on foot to access care services, or people living on less than a dollar a day struggling to afford diagnosis and treatment.
I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from past presidents Charles Gore, Michael Ninburg and Su Wang and look forward to continuing their hard work.
What do you hope to achieve as president?
It is a dream come true for me, but I also see it as a great responsibility. As the first president from the African region, I know I have a huge duty.
WHA has been the bedrock of the global hepatitis advocacy movement and the driving force behind the visibility of hepatitis globally. We need to maintain that push for hepatitis elimination.
I’m looking forward to working with the global board, the staff team and WHA members to drive forward elimination efforts.
Do you believe we can eliminate hepatitis by 2030?
We can, as a global community. It will be incredible to achieve it by 2030. In Africa, I am not sure the countries are taking the necessary steps towards elimination of hepatitis but I want to be cautiously optimistic. We have all the solutions and the strategies it’s time we put words into action and to achieve that we need political commitment.