The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for united action to prevent the transmission of hepatitis B from mother to child. News release published on Monday says.
According to the WHO, cases of Hepatitis B infections among children under five years of age dropped from five percent to below one percent in 2019. The director-general of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says “preventing mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B is the most the most important strategy for controlling the diseases.”
“No infant should grow up only to die of hepatitis B because they were not vaccinated ─ today’s milestone means that we have dramatically reduced the number of cases of liver damage and liver cancer in future generations,” said Dr. Adhanom
The WHO says more than 250 million people globally are living with chronic hepatitis B virus. The viral disease is an inflammation of liver that causes liver cancer. It can be prevented using a vaccine.
World Hepatitis Day is commemorated on 28th July each year to increase awareness on the disease. The theme of this year is “Hepatitis-free future,” with focus on preventing transmission among mothers and new-born.
However, WHO says the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to hamper efforts to eradicate hepatitis B vaccines. According to a new modelling study conducted by Imperial College London in collaboration with WHO, disruptions to the hepatitis B vaccination program due to the pandemic could have a serious impact on efforts to reach the targets of the global strategy.
Dr. Ghebreyesus says, “even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that mothers and newborns have access to life-saving services including hepatitis B vaccinations.”