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Hepatitis B rate among children plummets

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Children come for treatment at the hospital. KT/Mai Vireak

The rate of hepatitis B among children in the Kingdom has dropped to below one percent, an achievement recognised by the government and its partners.

According to a report by Hiroshima University, the World Health Organisation, United States Centre for Disease Control and the University of Health Sciences, the prevalence rate of the disease among children under six-years-old has dropped to 0.56 percent.

“Cambodia has achieved remarkable public health goals on combating hepatitis B among children to less than one percent,” the report said.

Liu Yunguo, WHO representative to Cambodia, said that the government fought for decades through the provision of vaccines, which he considered to be the most effective measure against the disease.

“Our next step is to strengthen routine immunisation systems, ensure vaccines are available at all levels, and maintain and increase hepatitis B birth does coverage and eliminate all types of hepatitis by 2030.”

According to a joint declaration published by the Health Ministry, WHO and Unicef, a study was conducted in 2017 surveying blood tests of five-year-old children.

The survey was aiming to measure the proportion of people living with hepatitis B in the country and compare the status of the disease with the WHO’s regional goal to reduce the rate of hepatitis B among children to less than one percent.

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said that before the inclusion of vaccination in the fight against hepatitis B in 2005, Cambodia was prone to the disease. Mr Bun Heng said that WHO estimated in 2006 that the disease was prevalent in 3.5 percent of children.

“Cambodia has achieved the national and Wester Pacific Regional goals in fighting against hepatitis B,” he said. “We managed to reduce the rate of illness and child death rate.”

Debora Comini, Unicef representative to Cambodia, said that hepatitis B can be prevented by delivering timely vaccinations and added that her organisation will continue to work with the government.

“We will continue to work closely with the Health Ministry and WHO to support the National Immunisation Program by ensuring that vaccinations are provided to all children,” Ms Comini said.

Hepatitis B can be transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth. Most babies who are exposed do not show symptoms, but the infection rate increases the rate of developing cancer from 15 to 25 percent.

Nearly 260 million people worldwide are living with the disease.

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