February 3, 2012 | The Editors

Milestones: hepatitis B immunization in Indonesia

We’ve been featuring some of the most notable achievements in our history, including modernizing contraceptive factories in China and helping to develop a smart sticker that can show when a vaccine has been exposed to heat that might sap its effectiveness. Now, here’s the third in our series on milestones from PATH’s first 35 years.

1987 to 1991: Increased hepatitis B immunization coverage in Indonesia

Man gives newborn held by woman in red blouse a shot in the upper thigh.
A health worker gives a newborn a birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine. Photo: PATH/Carib Nelson.

The health challenge: Hepatitis B, a potentially deadly liver infection that can spread from mother to infant at birth, was hyperendemic in Indonesia. With most births taking place at home, it was difficult to reach infants quickly enough with the vaccine that could prevent them from becoming infected.

What we did: PATH worked with the Indonesian Ministry of Health beginning in 1987 to launch a model immunization program on the island of Lombok. The innovative program introduced a comprehensive system for delivering a vital birth dose of the vaccine and established a system for tracking and monitoring pregnancies and births.

The result: The program achieved a nearly 100 percent rate of immunization. By 1991, the Indonesian government adopted a national policy requiring the hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns. In 2000, PT. Bio Farma of Indonesia began manufacturing and marketing hepatitis B vaccine using the Uniject™ injection system developed at PATH. Using this prefilled, single-dose injection system, trained village midwives and other health workers give an estimated 5 million birth doses of the vaccine each year, immunizing every newborn within hours or days of birth to prevent perinatal transmission.

Global health quiz

On Tuesday, we asked if vaccination against hepatitis B virus may help protect against other liver diseases. The main objective of vaccination against the virus is to protect people from chronic hepatitis B infection. Chronic hepatitis B infection, though, can lead to other liver diseases, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Posted in: ,