Consultation on improving and monitoring Hepatitis B birth dose vaccination
On 13-15 June 2012, five Member States were hosted at the Western Pacific Regional Office to discuss implementation strategies and monitoring of hepatitis B birth dose vaccination. Participating countries were Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Viet Nam, with support from Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and partner organizations including the Burnet Institute (Australia), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA), Asian Liver Center (USA), Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (Singapore), PATH Viet Nam, United Nations Children's Fund (Philippines), Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory (Australia), and Zeshan Foundation (Hong Kong).
The meeting provided an opportunity for countries facing similar challenges to share experiences and successes. Participants focussed on improving timely hepatitis B birth dose vaccination via coordination between maternal and child health and immunization programmes. The need to increase skilled birth attendant access for women in poorly resourced settings remains a critical issue. Strategies to strengthen in-country collaboration were discussed, with the use of birth dose as a driver for increasing post-natal care access. Ensuring babies already born in health facilities receive birth dose is important, whilst innovative approaches, such as specific home visit programmes and controlled temperature chain vaccine use, were highlighted as effective tools in reaching high-risk populations. The importance of high-level governmental support and policy framework in enabling new approaches was emphasised. Additionally, a session reviewing data management was particularly appreciated in providing insights into the vaccination coverage estimation process.
Participating countries developed tailored activities to improve timely birth dose vaccination within their specific national contexts. Ongoing progress and support for in-country and international collaboration is vital, as the Western Pacific Region moves towards the goal of reducing chronic hepatitis B prevalence to less than 1%.