Govt to conduct on the ground review of Hepatitis B immunization drive

Ten years since the Hepatitis B vaccine was introduced in the Universal Immunisation Programme, the Indian Council of Medical Research aims to identify the barriers leading to low coverage and study the impact of the immunization

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New Delhi: The union health ministry plans to assess the impact of the Hepatitis B vaccine immunization on the population post its induction in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) ten years back.

Despite government efforts, Viral hepatitis continues to be a serious public health problem in India. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 52 million people in the country are currently infected with chronic hepatitis.

The government introduced Hepatitis B vaccines in the UIP in 2007-2008. Nearly 119,000 cases of all-cause viral hepatitis were reported in India in 2012. The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of the National Centre for Disease Control received notification of over 290,000 cases of acute viral hepatitis in 2013.

Under the health ministry’s plan, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) aims to identify the barriers leading to low Hepatitis B coverage under UIP and study the impact of the immunization done over the years.

The health ministry is developing a comprehensive integrated three-year National Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis (NAPVH) with the key objective of providing an actionable framework of evidence based, priority interventions to support the national response for prevention, control and management of viral hepatitis in the country. Under the plan, studies will be conducted to understand the efficacy of alternative medicine in preventing and treating viral hepatitis, comparison of indigenous and Chinese hepatitis vaccines in clinical trials and understand the modes of transmission of viral hepatitis B.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3.1 aims to achieve the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030. India is also a signatory to this World Health Assembly resolution and the country’s vision is to move towards elimination of Viral Hepatitis by 2030.