Prevention of hepatitis B infection: the appropriate strategy for India

Natl Med J India. Sep-Oct 1994;7(5):216-20.


Hepatitis B infection is a major global health problem with a high morbidity and mortality. With safe and effective vaccines available, it is now possible to prevent it. Many countries have started national hepatitis B control programmes but no attempt has been made to do this in our country. An analysis of the available data on the epidemiology of hepatitis B infection in India reveals that perinatal maternofoetal transmission accounts for only a minority of hepatitis B virus carriers in India. Therefore, a policy of screening pregnant mothers for the presence of hepatitis B surface antigen and selective immunization of babies born to those who are surface antigen positive will have very little effect on the hepatitis B carrier rate in our population. Universal immunization of all newborns will have a much greater impact, it will be logistically simpler and more cost-effective--the cost of preventing one hepatitis B carrier being nearly one-fourth of that with selective immunization. We recommend that hepatitis B vaccine should be included in our country's expanded programme of immunization.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carrier State / epidemiology
  • Carrier State / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B / transmission
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunization / economics
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines