Publications & Reports

Melbourne Statement on Prevention of Perinatal Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus

Endorsed by participants in the WHO Consultation on Best Practices and Tools for Preventing Perinatal Hepatitis B Virus Transmission
Centre for International Health, Burnet Institute, Melbourne; COMPASS - AusAID Women's and Children's Health Knowledge Hub, World Health Organization.

Abstract

A Call for the Consideration of All Available Strategies

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major public health problem globally with other 2 billion people infected and up to 400 million people who are chronically HBV-infected.

Hepatitis B vaccination starting at birth is highly effective at preventing chronic HBV infection and its subsequent burden of disease and death.

The crucial aspect of hepatitis B vaccination strategies is the timely delivery of the birth dose - noting the strong evidence that first vaccination within 24 hours of birth has far greater efficacy in prevention of perinatal transmission than when the first vaccination is delayed.

Inequities in access to hepatitis B birth dose vaccination result in an increased burden of end stage liver disease, primary liver cancer and death in children and adults - increasing with age.

We must consider the potential value of all strategies to ensure the timely administration (within 24 hours of birth where possible) of the hepatitis B vaccine birth dose.