Hepatitis B infections are responsible for more than 300 thousand deaths per year in the Western Pacific Region. Because of this high burden, the countries and areas of the Region established a goal of reducing hepatitis B chronic infection prevalence among children to less than 1% by 2017. This study was conducted to measure the progress in hepatitis B prevention and assess the status of achievement of the 2017 Regional hepatitis B control goal. A literature review was conducted to identify studies of hepatitis B prevalence in the countries and areas of the region, both before and after vaccine introduction. A mathematical model was applied to assess infections and deaths prevented by hepatitis B vaccination and hepatitis B prevalence in countries without recent empirical data. The majority of countries and areas (22 out of 36) were estimated to have over 8% prevalence of chronic hepatitis B infection among persons born before vaccine introduction. After introduction of hepatitis B vaccine, most countries and areas (24 out of 36) had chronic infection prevalence of less than 1% among children born after vaccine introduction. It was estimated that in the past 25 years immunization programmes in the Western Pacific Region have averted 7,167,128 deaths that would have occurred in the lifetime of children born between 1990 and 2014 if hepatitis B vaccination programmes had not been established. Regional prevalence among children born in 2012 was estimated to be 0.93%, meaning that the Regional hepatitis B control goal was achieved. While additional efforts are needed to further reduce hepatitis B transmission in the region, this study demonstrates the great success of the hepatitis B vaccination efforts in the Western Pacific Region.
Keywords: Hepatitis B; Immunization; Western Pacific.
Copyright © 2016 The World Health Organization. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.