Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: Current Status and Future Prospects

Salah Al Awaidy Health Affairs, Ministry of Health, Muscat, Oman;

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Rania A. Tohme Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia;

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Hamad E. Al Romaihi Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar;

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Sayeh Ezzikouri Institut Pasteur du Maroc, Casablanca, Morocco;

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Ozayr Mahomed Department of Public Health Medicine, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa;
Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait City, Kuwait

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ABSTRACT.

The WHO member states endorsed the goal to eliminate mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) by 2030, which requires achievement of ≥ 90% coverage with timely hepatitis B birth dose (HepB-BD), three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine (HepB3), and a hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroprevalence ≤ 0.1% in children. We assessed the progress made to achieve EMTCT of HBV in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Data was extracted from National Viral Hepatitis Strategic Frameworks and WHO hepatitis B vaccination coverage estimates during 2018–2022 for all GCC countries. We also reviewed the literature to summarize the prevalence of HBsAg in children. During 2018–2022, coverage with timely HepB-BD and HepB3 was > 90% in all countries. All newborns irrespective of whether parents are nationals or immigrants/expatriates receive HepB-BD and other routine immunization vaccines. Prevalence of HBsAg among children was available in three of six GCC countries; it ranged from 0% in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to 0.4% in Oman. Five countries reported screening pregnant women for HBsAg, and three provided antiviral treatment of those eligible, and hepatitis B immunoglobulin to exposed newborns. In conclusion, all GCC countries achieved hepatitis B vaccination targets and countries with available data have either achieved or are close to achieving EMTCT of HBV. Remaining countries need to implement hepatitis B serosurveys to track progress to EMTCT of HBV.

Author Notes

Disclosure: The findings and conclusions of this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data used and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the public domain and can be made available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Authors’ addresses: Salah Al Awaidy, Health Affairs, Ministry of Health, Muscat, Oman, E-mail: salah.awaidy@gmail.com. Rania A. Tohme, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: ihb1@cdc.gov. Hamad E. Al Romaihi, Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar, E-mail: halromaihi@moph.gov.qa. Sayeh Ezzikouri, Institut Pasteur du Maroc, Casablanca, Morocco, E-mail: sayeh.ezzikouri@gmail.com. Ozyr Mohammed, Department of Public Health Medicine, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa, and Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait City, Kuwait, E-mail: ozayr411@gmail.com.

Address correspondence to Salah Al Awaidy, Ministry of Health, Al Khuuwair, P.O.Box 313, Muscat 113, Oman. E-mail: Salah.awaidy@gmail.com
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