Hong Kong's achievement of hepatitis B goal verified by WHO
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Hong Kong was this month verified by the Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO) as having successfully achieved the goal of hepatitis B control.
The Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH), Dr Thomas Tsang, explained that back in September 2005, WPRO set a time-bound goal of reducing the seroprevalence of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) to less than 2 per cent among children aged 5 years or older by 2012, and ultimately a regional goal of less than 1 per cent HBsAg prevalence among children aged 5 years or older.
To meet WPRO's verification requirements, the DH had to provide sufficient documentary evidence, including HBsAg seroprevalence data, hepatitis B vaccine coverage data, and surveillance data on hepatitis B virus infection.A report compiled by DH was assessed by a three-member Verification Panel appointed by WPRO.
Dr Tsang said: "In Hong Kong, the universal hepatitis B immunisation programme for newborns started in 1988.According to DH's immunisation coverage survey in 2009, the percentage of children aged 2 to 5 years who have completed three doses of hepatitis B vaccines exceeded 99.5 per cent.Moreover, in order to comply with the requirements set out by WPRO, DH conducted a special study on HBsAg seroprevalence among more than 1 900 children born after the implementation of the universal hepatitis B vaccination programme in 2009.The study showed an HBsAg seroprevalence of 0.78 per cent, thereby fulfilling WPRO's goal on hepatitis B control of less than 1 per cent."
DH submitted a report together with the required documents to WPRO in February 2011. After a full assessment by the Verification Panel, Hong Kong was verified to have achieved the final goal of hepatitis B control in July 2011.
"Hong Kong owes this milestone achievement in hepatitis B control to high vaccination coverage, strong laboratory support, effective surveillance as well as vigorous public education efforts by all partners over the past decades," Dr Tsang said.
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