A Milestone… and More Hurdles

The WHO is marking this World Hepatitis Day with some good news.
 
In 2019, the proportion of under-5s chronically infected with hepatitis B fell below 1%, compared to ~5% between the 1980s and the early 2000s.
 
That’s largely thanks to a massive global vaccination effort over the past 2 decades. But: COVID-19 service interruptions threaten continued progress against the liver-attacking disease, which claims 900,000 lives every year.
 
Sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Pacific region account for about 68% of all chronic hepatitis B infections. 
 
But millions don’t know they have it, and the disease can cause significant damage before symptoms arise, Kolawole Oluseyi Akande of the University of Ibadan writes in The Conversation.
 
Key to breaking the chain of transmission: preventing mother-to-child transmission, and finding the “missing millions” who don’t know they have the disease.
 

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