Friday, July 15, 2016

Myanmar - Liver Foundation aims for countrywide hepatitis inoculations

Hepatitis B vaccinations have been ramped up around the country over the past 10 months under a dual Liver Foundation and Ministry of Health project.

The inoculation scheme, which began in August 2015, has so far covered around 1.5 million people. An end date has not yet been decided, but the program aims for comprehensive coverage, according to the Liver Foundation.

“We will inoculate everybody in the country against hepatitis B together with the Ministry of Health,” said Dr Khin Pyone Kyi, president of the Liver Foundation,Myanmar.

A nationwide survey conducted in 2015 showed that nearly 5 million people in Myanmar suffer from a form of the hepatitis viruses. It was estimated that about 3.3 million people suffer from hepatitis B, which is transmitted through bodily fluids and attacks the liver, possibly leading to serious, chronic disease like scarring and liver cancer.

The Liver Foundation vaccine drive is open to everyone in the country, although the national guidelines recommend infants are inoculated.

“We have no age limitation for providing the vaccine in our program, except newborn babies. The program aims to cover the whole country. People who want to get the hepatitis B vaccine can contact our foundation,” said Dr Khin Pyone Kyi.

The foundation is also educating local charities about hepatitis B because those infected with the disease can pass the infection on to others through blood or bodily fluids, Dr Khin Pyone Kyi said.

“Hepatitis B can be transmitted easily from person to person. The disease can also be transmitted from mother to baby. Hepatitis B infection can happen at any age. Therefore, we aim to control and protect people against the disease,” she said.

Last year’s survey found that the highest prevalence of HB infection was 12.4 percent in Yangon Region and the lowest was 3.3pc in Magwe Region. The high point of hepatitis B infection, 7.36pc, was found in the 30-39 age group.

The national program includes a pentavalent inoculation administered to infants are the age of two months. The program, which was launched in 2012, is supported by the GAVI Alliance and has so far covered around 75 percent of the country.

Myint Kay Thi

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