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Hong Kong's achievement of hepatitis B goal verified by WHO

     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.

Ends/Friday, July 22, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:51


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