Controlling hepatitis B in the WHO Western Pacific Region: achieving our goals
In the WHO Western Pacific Region, the virus that causes hepatitis B is being brought under control. We have a powerful tool, a vaccine that protects babies against infection by the hepatitis B virus. Three doses: That's all it takes to protect an infant for life, to prevent the liver cancer and cirrhosis that commonly result from hepatitis B, to allow every child to grow into healthy adulthood, to put hepatitis B in its place—permanently.
WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific
Publication date: 18 November 2013
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In the 1990s, we started giving the safe and effective hepatitis B vaccine to babies. We had to, because among WHO's six regions, the Western Pacific had the highest burden of hepatitis B infection and accounted for half of all chronic hepatitis B infections despite having only one-fourth of the world's population, and because 12% of the Region's children were chronically infected, and one-fourth of these were dying prematurely from liver cancer or cirrhosis. In 2005, we set an ambitious goal: to reduce chronic hepatitis B infection to less than 2% of children by 2012. The results have been spectacular. Today, 17 out of 20 babies in the Region get the all-important dose at birth. And 19 out of 20 get the recommended three doses. In 2012, we achieved our goal. As a result, 10 million infections have been prevented and 2.5 million premature deaths have been avoided. Now we're reaching higher: to reduce chronic hepatitis B infection to less than 1% of children by 2017.