Hepatitis

Key facts

  • China has a comprehensive strategy for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis.
  • China is controlling hepatitis A through vaccination of young children and through efforts to assure safe water and food.
  • China is controlling hepatitis B through a programme that includes
    • interrupting transmission during childbirth through vaccinating newborns during their first day of life,
    • completing the hepatitis B vaccination series during infancy,
    • screening of blood products,
    • safe injection practices, and
    • education about the disease and methods to reduce transmission of the virus.
  • China is controlling hepatitis C through screening of blood products, safe injection practices, and education.
  • Hepatitis D is a co-infection with hepatitis B, and efforts to control hepatitis B also help control hepatitis D.
  • China is the first country to have a licensed vaccine against hepatitis E. Recommendations for use of this newly licensed vaccine will be made in the future.

Hepatitis B control

  • There are more than 90 million chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus in China, accounting for about one-third of all HBV chronic carriers in the world.
  • In 1992, China made hepatitis B vaccine available. In 2002, it included hepatitis B vaccine into the routine EPI programme, and provided the vaccine at no cost to parents.
  • Vaccination coverage levels for three doses of Hepatitis B vaccination reached 93.4% for the 2005 birth cohort, while the implementation of a timely birth dose reached 82.6%.
  • The prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection among children less than 5 years of age decreased to 1.0% in 2006.
  • The high (6.7%) prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in women of child bearing age in 2006 reaffirmed the need to further strengthen the programme for the prevention of perinatal transmission of HBV to increase coverage at health facilities, enhance routine HBV screening of pregnant women, continue timely birth doses of hepatitis B vaccine for all infants, and provide hepatitis B immune globulin for infants born to mothers who have chronic hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis A control

  • There are two types of hepatitis A vaccine licensed for use in China – a live, attenuated vaccine and an inactivated vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine was first introduced in China in 1992.
  • In 2007, China included hepatitis A vaccination into the routine EPI programme, making hepatitis A vaccination universally available at no cost to parents.
  • Compared with the pre-vaccine era, the incidence of hepatitis A infection has decreased by 93%.
  • Hepatitis A can still be a problem. For example, in 2010, there was an outbreak of hepatitis A with 30,000 people infected.

WHO's response

WHO is working in the following areas to prevent and control viral hepatitis:

  • raising awareness, promoting partnerships and mobilizing resources;
  • evidence-based policy and data for action;
  • prevention of transmission;
  • screening, care and treatment.

WHO also organizes World Hepatitis Day on July 28 every year to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis.

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