GAVI support offers poor countries access to Hepatitis B
As soon as GAVI was established in 2000, hepatitis B (hepB) became one of three 'underused vaccines' immediately made available for routine infant immunisation through its flagship new and underused vaccine programme.
In GAVI's latest 2011 round of applications, any country with DTP3 (three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) coverage above 50% (WHO-UNICEF estimates for 2009) was considered for hepB support, as long as the hepB vaccine is not currently part of their routine immunisation programme and funded with government funds. Support is not available for a 'catch-up' campaign.
Initially, GAVI provided support for hepB monovalent. However, in December 2005, the GAVI Alliance Board decided to only accept new applications for hepB support through the combination vaccines (eg, tetravalent and pentavalent)
The five-in-one pentavalent vaccine, administered in a three-dose schedule, offers low-income countries the added incentive of providing protection from hepB at the same time as immunising their children against four other diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP3) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
Pentavalent also brings savings in cost of equipment, delivery and disposal programmmes.
Map of countries approved for GAVI's Hepatitis b vaccine support
Putting hepB vaccine on the agenda
GAVI has helped put the long available but little used hepB vaccine on the agenda of low-income countries. To help health ministries make a case for introducing the hepB vaccine into their national immunisation programmes, GAVI provides WHO recommendations and vaccine introduction guidelines.
GAVI also provided financial assistance to WHO to develop lab surveillance and conduct serosurveys for hepatitis.
WHO recommendations on hepatitis B vaccines
|1991:||routine immunisation worldwide|
|2004:||first dose within 24 hours of birth in countries where a high proportion of infections acquired perinatally|