Successes in hepatitis B transmission must be protected, says WHO

27 July 2020

It’s never been more important to invest in vaccines to protect against hepatitis – a preventable disease of the liver that kills 1.4 million people a year – the UN health agency has said.

For World Hepatitis Day 2020, which is celebrated on 28 July, the World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed findings showing that the percentage of children under five who are chronically infected with hepatitis B has dropped to just under one per cent – a Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) target.

But it has also warned that the COVID-19 crisis has distracted Governments from vital vaccination work, including preventing mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B – one of five strains of the virus.

Infants are especially vulnerable to hepatitis B, as about 90 per cent of those infected in their first year will have it for life, as WHO’s Dr Meg Doherty tells UN News’s Daniel Johnson.

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