Fighting Mother-Child Transmission of Hepatitis B.

There is need in increasing the awareness of Mother-child transmission of Hepatitis b while enforcing the role of associations in the fight against hepatitis, prevention of mother-to-child transmission which is the major route of acquisition of HBV worldwide with a 7.7% mother-child transmission rate in Cameroon. This was revealed by health experts during the first International Forum on Hepatitis held in Douala, Cameroon on Sunday 19th August 2018. The forum was organized by the Cameroon Society of Gastroenterology (SCG) and the association SOS Hepatitis Cameroon under the theme “Overcoming hepatitis by 2030”.

Most pregnant women, who are unaware of their infection status as chronic HBV carriers, are at risk of transmitting HBV infection to their newborn babies at birth. • From the public health perspective, preventing infections acquired at birth and in early childhood is critical, as children have a 90% chance of becoming chronic carriers if infected at the time of birth, a 30% chance of becoming chronic carriers if infected between one and five years of age, and a 5% to 10% chance of becoming chronic carriers if infected after five years of age.

Transmission from infected mothers to their infants takes place primarily at the time of birth. A newborn infant has a 10% to 90% chance of becoming infected at the time of delivery if its mother has chronic hepatitis B infection. The probability of transmission increases substantially if the mother is positive for both HBsAg and HBeAg, indicating active viral replication. It is estimated that 20% to 40% of HBsAg-positive mothers may be positive for HBeAg as well.

Preventing the transmission of Hepatitis b from mother to child is possible through a Hepatitis B vaccine which is effective in preventing infection after a person is exposed to the virus (by any means), if given soon enough after exposure. Hence, if the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine is given as soon as possible after birth (within 24 hours), hepatitis B infection can be prevented in a newborn infant.

Hepatitis is a deadly disease not only to pregnant women but to the population as a whole. Hepatitis-related deaths are on the rise in Cameroon, with an average of 10,000 deaths a year,

For Dr. Hubert Leundji, secretary general of SOS Hepatitis, the prevalence rate of hepatitis B is around 10% while that of hepatitis C hovers around 13%.

Since January 2018, the government has lowered the costs of protocols dealing with hepatitis B, C and D. For people with viral hepatitis C (genotypes 1 and 4), for example, instead of 280,000 CFA francs, patients who are subject to monthly treatment will now pay 120,000 CFA francs for access to their treatment.

The monthly cost of the viral hepatitis C protocol (genotypes 2 and 3), meanwhile, increases from 150,000 CFA francs to 100,000 CFA francs.

Maikem Emmanuela Manzie

 

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