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More Countries Reaching Hepatitis B Control Targets Brings The WHO European Region Closer to Eliminating Viral Hepatitis as a Public Health Threat

Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have reached regional hepatitis B control targets set by the Action Plan for the Health Sector Response to Viral Hepatitis in the WHO European Region. This achievement was validated by the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts (ETAGE) based on an assessment of country reports and recommendations made by the ETAGE Working Group on Hepatitis B during its 5th Meeting on 17 March 2023. These countries join Georgia, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Moldova and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which were validated as reaching the targets for hepatitis B control in 2021 or 2022. 

WHO applauds the commitment and dedication of immunization programmes in all countries to achieve a high level of protection from hepatitis B and its long-term consequences, including liver cancer, in their populations born after the introduction of universal hepatitis B vaccination. Countries use different strategies for vaccination and prevention of perinatal transmission of hepatitis B based on their national context and are supported by WHO/Europe in validating achievement of the control targets. As more countries reach the regional targets set for hepatitis B control, their efforts collectively bring the Region closer to achieving the ultimate goal of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

ETAGE Working Group on Hepatitis B Conclusions

The Hepatitis B Working Group was convened in 2016 to review validation reports submitted by Members States in the Region, monitor progress in achieving hepatitis B control targets, and provide input on future steps of the validation and hepatitis B and C elimination processes.

Based on recommendations of the Working Group made in its 5th meeting, ETAGE validated the achievement of the hepatitis B control targets by Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This was based on each country’s vaccination coverage for hepatitis B birth dose and subsequent doses, additional measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission, as well as the results of serosurveys demonstrating that successful vaccination has led to significant reductions of hepatitis B prevalence among vaccinated cohorts.

Source : World Health Organization