Is hepatitis B birth dose vaccine needed in Africa?

Pan Afr Med J. 2017 Jun 22;27(Suppl 3):18. doi: 10.11604/pamj.supp.2017.27.3.11546. eCollection 2017.


This commentary describes the need for a birth dose monovalent hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine and an effective programme for the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) of HBV in Africa. Current World Health Organization guidelines recommend routine maternal screening for HBV followed by treatment of highly infectious HBV-infected mothers, and HBV birth dose vaccination and the administration of hepatitis B immunoglobulin for HBV-exposed infants as an effective strategy for the prevention of HBV MTCT. None of these practices are currently in place in most parts of Africa. To date, fewer than 10 African countries vaccinate children at birth against HBV. Despite the hurdles associated with implementing this practice, its expansion to the rest of Africa is feasible and crucial to reducing the global number of new HBV infections by 90% by 2030, as targeted by the current Global Health Strategy for the elimination of viral hepatitis.

Keywords: Africa; HBV; birth-dose; elimination.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B / transmission
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration
  • Immunoglobulins / administration & dosage
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology*


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulins
  • hepatitis B hyperimmune globulin