Hepatitis B in Vietnam – a crisis waiting to happen

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Michael Mina


Hepatitis B, vaccination, public health


Hepatitis B is a major public health concern in the Asia-Pacific region, where three quarters of the 350 million people infected with chronic hepatitis B virus worldwide are resident. Hepatitis B is the primary cause of chronic liver disease, including liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have implemented disease prevention programs, such as public awareness campaigns, health education and vaccination of newborn babies with a view to controlling hepatitis B infection. Vietnam, however, lags behind and HBV infection contributes to fifty percent of acute hepatitis, eighty eight percent of cirrhosis and up to eighty percent of HCC. Without strict adherence to vaccination disciplines and measures to ensure better education of both public and general practitioners incorporating appropriate use of antivirals, the infection is likely to remain a heavy burden on the nation’s health care system for decades to come. Adequate screening programs will allow the disease prevalence to be monitored and highlight those who are at risk and require treatment or vaccination. Hepatitis B infection control needs a regulated formula from government level descending through the order of process to culminate with each clinical vaccinator.