World Hepatitis Day: Sub-Saharan Africa sees progress, but persisting risks for HBV, HBC transfusion-transmitted infections, CDC reports

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mmwrjuly25More countries were screening donated blood for hepatitis B and hepatitis C across sub-Saharan Africa by 2011, than 10 years earlier but prevention of transfusion-transmitted disease remains challenged across the region, a report from the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention released last week shows.

The report, in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says the report, which shows an increase of 86 percent in the number of countries screening at least 95 percent of all donated blood for hepatitis C, and a 94 percent increase in the number of countries screening at least 95 percent of donated blood for hepatitis B, is based on analysis of data from 38 countries across the region. Still, the report, Progress Toward Prevention of Transfusion-Transmitted Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Infection – Sub-Saharan Africa 2000-2011, notes, an estimated 45,000 hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections are transmitted by blood transfusions each year. The data, which showed overall increases in the amount of blood donated across the region, also showed that lapses in screening practices persist in some sub-Saharan African countries. The findings demonstrate  the need for continued investment in blood-safety programs, which have been supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the authors wrote, and to ensure that  World Health Organization-recommended coordinated strategies are put into practice in countries with limited resources.

The CDC report follows last year’s World Health Organization Global policy report on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in WHO member states, which reported that a little more than 91 percent of WHO member states reported screening all donated blood for hepatitis C and 94.4 percent of member states reported screening all donated blood for hepatitis B.

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