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Published On: Sat, Jun 23rd, 2018

Philippines: National Hepatitis B Sero-prevalence Survey to be conducted

The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) is setting out to determine how prevalent hepatitis B doing a sero-prevalence survey that began this month.

An important question DOH wants to answer is, How many Filipino children really have Hepatitis B? While that number is unknown, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2016 that some 8.5 million Filipinos are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus.

Image/jrvalverde via pixabay

The National Hepatitis B Sero-prevalence Survey will be conducted with support from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO.

“We want to be more effective in preventing hepatitis B, and this survey will yield very important information on how DOH can improve its health services,” Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III said.

The National Hepatitis B Sero-prevalence Survey teams will go to randomly-selected households, and request for parent’s consent to participate in the activity. A small amount of blood will be drawn and tested for hepatitis B from the eligible child.

Around 3,000 children, aged five to six years old, will be tested for hepatitis B in the survey. DOH partnered with the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation, Inc., in deploying survey teams to 25 provinces.

Aside from assessing the progress towards hepatitis B control in the country, the survey will also help document the immunization program’s progress by measuring vaccination coverage among children. The survey will also provide baseline information as the country aims for the global goal of 0.1% hepatitis B prevalence among children by 2030.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis B is usually spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected, according to the CDC.

This can happen through sexual contact with an infected person or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. Hepatitis B can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth.

Hepatitis B can be either acute or chronic. Acute Hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis B virus. Acute infection can — but does not always — lead to chronic infection. Chronic Hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis B virus remains in a person’s body. Chronic Hepatitis B is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, and even death.

The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.

In the Philippines, Hepatitis B vaccination has been part of the routine childhood immunization program since 1992. Republic Act No. 10152 or the “Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011,” further highlighted the importance of the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine, given within 24 hours of birth to prevent mother-to-child transmission of infection. Three more doses of the vaccine are then given during infancy (4-8 weeks, 10-16 weeks, and before the child reaches one year of age) for additional protection.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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