Progress Toward Hepatitis B Control and Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus - Western Pacific Region, 2005-2017

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019 Mar 1;68(8):195-200. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6808a2.


Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB), which has been available since 1982, provides lifelong protection against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and the associated 20%-30% increased lifetime risk for developing cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma among >95% of vaccine recipients (1). Before HepB introduction into national childhood immunization schedules, the estimated hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) prevalence in the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region (WPR)* was >8% in 1990 (2). In 2005, the WPR was the first WHO region to establish a hepatitis B control goal, with an initial target of reducing HBsAg prevalence to <2% among children aged 5 years by 2012. In 2013, the WPR set more stringent control targets to achieve by 2017, including reducing HBsAg prevalence to <1% in children aged 5 years and increasing national coverage with both timely HepB birth dose (HepB-BD) (defined as administration within 24 hours of birth) and the third HepB dose (HepB3) to ≥95% (3). All WPR countries/areas endorsed the Regional Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis in the Western Pacific Region 2016-2020 in 2015 (4) and the Regional Framework for the Triple Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B and Syphilis in Asia and the Pacific 2018-2030 (triple elimination framework) in 2017 (5). These regional targets and strategies are aligned with program targets established by the WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis 2016-2021 that aim to reduce HBsAg prevalence among children aged 5 years to ≤1% by 2020 and to ≤0.1% by 2030 (6). This report describes progress made to achieve hepatitis B control in the WPR and the steps taken to eliminate mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HBV during 2005-2017. During this period, regional timely HepB-BD and HepB3 coverage increased from 63% to 85% and from 76% to 93%, respectively. As of December 2017, 15 (42%) countries/areas achieved ≥95% timely HepB-BD coverage; 18 (50%) reached ≥95% HepB3 coverage; and 19 (53%) countries/areas as well as the region as a whole were verified to have achieved the regional and global target of <1% HBsAg prevalence among children aged 5 years. Continued implementation of proven vaccination strategies will be needed to make further progress toward WPR hepatitis B control targets. In addition to high HepB-BD and HepB3 coverage, enhanced implementation of complementary hepatitis B prevention services through the triple elimination framework, including routine HBsAg testing of pregnant women, timely administration of hepatitis B immunoglobulin to exposed newborns, and antiviral treatment of mothers with high viral loads, will be needed to achieve the global hepatitis B elimination target by 2030.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Eradication*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B / transmission
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data
  • Pacific Islands / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination Coverage / statistics & numerical data


  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines