Ghana to Introduce Hepatitis B Vaccine for Newborns at Birth in 2024

In a significant step towards enhancing public health, Ghana has announced the implementation of a Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine for newborns, starting in the year 2024. Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), disclosed this news, which was reported by the Ghanaian Times on July 27, 2023.

The new initiative entails administering the HBV vaccine within 24 hours of birth, making it an integral part of the country’s existing childhood immunization program. The primary objective of this at-birth vaccination is to reduce chronic HBV infections among the population and bolster the health of newborns right from the start.

To ensure the successful implementation of this program, the Ghana Health Service will collaborate closely with the Ministry of Health, receiving crucial support from the Global Fund. The collaboration aims to achieve the triple elimination of Hepatitis B and Syphilis in 2024.

Dr. Kuma-Aboagye emphasized the importance of expanding the antenatal service package to include HBV testing for pregnant women, ensuring that those in need receive necessary treatment. Additionally, the government is actively working to reduce the cost of medications used in the treatment of hepatitis B and C on the global market. The goal is to improve access to testing and treatment, promoting better health outcomes for those affected by the disease.

Dr. Atsu Godwin Seake-Kwawu, the Programme Manager for the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme, stressed the urgency of increased interventions to address viral hepatitis in Ghana. In 2019 alone, the country recorded a concerning 9.1% of chronic hepatitis cases, contributing to 1.5 million new infections annually and 820,000 global deaths.

As part of the efforts to mark the 2023 World Hepatitis Day, health experts are dedicated to raising awareness about hepatitis and advocating for urgent action in preventing and controlling the disease. Hepatitis, an inflammatory condition of the liver caused by various viral infections, is classified into five main types: hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, each caused by different viruses.

By introducing the HBV vaccine for newborns and enhancing access to testing and treatment, Ghana is taking significant strides towards a healthier and resilient population, paving the way for a brighter and healthier future.

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