Hepatitis B vaccination still India’s challenge

“In India, surveys indicate that around 30 million people are infected with hepatitis B and 19 million with hepatitis C. Since there’s a cheap and effective vaccine against Hepatitis B, vaccination can save many lives,” said Charles Gore, president of the Conference of the Asian Pacific Association for the study of the liver in Bangkok.

Apart from vaccinating newborns, pregnant women should be routinely tested for hepatitis B to stop them from passing the virus to their baby.

The hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in prevention of chronic infection. In India, about 3-4% adults are carriers who may not develop symptoms. Some, however, develop chronic infection and have a 20% chance of developing severe illness, liver cancer and liver failure.

Prevention is the only answer,” said Dr Ashley Brown, consultant haepatologist, St. Mary’s & Hammersmith Hospitals, London.

The article appeared in the Hindustan Times on February 19th, 2011.

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