The World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region (WPR), which consists of 37 countries and areas with a total population of approximately 1.8 billion, has seen a significant decrease in the incidence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV), with only a few countries still requiring programmatic improvement in vaccination to achieve hepatitis B control, according to a report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.1

Before the introduction of hepatitis B vaccine into national childhood immunization schedules, the estimated hepatitis B surface antigen prevalence in the WPR in 1990 was more than 8%.2 In 2005, this region established a HBV control goal of reducing hepatitis B surface antigen prevalence to less than 2% among children aged 5 years by 2012.1 In 2013, they set an even more stringent goal of less than 1% prevalence in children by 2017. Reporters sought to describe the progress made to achieve HBV control and the steps taken to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HBV during 2005 to 2017 in the WPR.

They found that regional hepatitis B vaccine birth dose and third dose coverage increased from 63% to 85% and from 76% to 93%, respectively. In 2017, 15 (42%) and 18 (50%) of 36 WPR countries/areas achieved ³95% hepatitis B vaccine birth dose and third dose coverage, respectively. Chronic hepatitis infection in children declined to less than 1% in 25 (69%) countries/areas.

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The authors concluded that as “continued commitment and enhanced coordination among programs that offer different hepatitis B prevention interventions are needed to achieve hepatitis B elimination by 2030.”1


  1. Woodring J, Pastore R, Brink A, Ishikawa N, Takashima Y, Tohme RA. Progress toward hepatitis B control and elimination of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus – Western Pacific Region, 2005-2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68(8):195-200.
  2. Wiesen E, Diorditsa S, Li X. Progress towards hepatitis B prevention through vaccination in the Western Pacific, 1990-2014. Vaccine. 2016;34(25):2855-2862.