WHO official urges hepatitis B education in China

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-2-26 9:48:29

More effort is needed in China to fight discrimination against hepatitis B virus carriers, Dr. Shin Young-soo, the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific regional director said on Tuesday.

While praising China's efforts in reducing hepatitis B infections at a press conference, Dr. Shin urged the country to continue with its vaccine program and promote education about the virus so carriers do not suffer discrimination.

The country's hepatitis B vaccine program was deemed "highly successful" by the WHO official. Less than 1 percent of Chinese children under the age of five have chronic hepatitis B, down from over 9 percent in 1992 when the vaccine was introduced.

Hepatitis B is life threatening. The virus can cause chronic liver disease and infection, and increases the risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

There are 93 million carriers of hepatitis B in China. Each year, 280,000 people in the country die from diseases related to the virus.

Describing vaccination as the safest and most effective way to tackle the virus, Dr. Shin stressed that a dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours after birth was critically important to protect newborns from infection.

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