Mumbai: Doctors launch programme to protect newborns against viral hepatitis B

The National Liver Foundation and Mumbai Obstetric and Gynaecological Association have joined hands to ensure that no child is left unprotected at birth from being administered a free hepatitis B vaccine shot

Mumbai: Doctors launch programme to protect newborns against viral hepatitis B
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Mumbai has nearly 1,60,000 born every year. Currently, 12% or nearly 20,000 newborns in Mumbai, each year, do not receive this vaccine, which affords protection against hepatitis B infection that can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer later in life.

This partnership is being launched as part of the observations for World Hepatitis Day, 2018 with presence of Dr Samir Shah, Dr Bipin Pandit, Dr Avinash Supe, Dean KEM Hospital and Dr Chiplunkar, Assistant Health officer

The program is aimed at ensuring every newborn in Mumbai will get a protective hepatitis B vaccine shot within 24 hours of birth, irrespective of place of delivery of the newborn, whether in a private hospital or nursing home, or in any municipal or government facility.

Municipal and Government hospitals and maternity centres in Mumbai are already providing the vaccine to all newborn children delivered in their facilities. With this partnership program, it is expected that Mumbai will become the first city in India to achieve universal administration of birth dose hepatitis B vaccine.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr Samir Shah, Founder and Hon Gen. Secretary of National Liver Foundation said, “National Liver Foundation is pleased to see the leadership role that Mumbai Obstetric and Gynaecological Society is taking to ensure that no newborn child will leave a birthing centre without receiving the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine. MOGS has been at the forefront of ensuring the highest standards of clinical care to women, and this commitment to ensuring prevention of mother to child transmission of hepatitis B advances their credentials to providing the best standard of care to both mother and the newborn.”

Dr Bipin Pandit, President, Mumbai Obstetric and Gynaecological Society President said, “For hepatitis B, we are committed to supporting universal coverage of hepatitis B vaccines, both through the routine immunisation program and particularly through the administration of a birth dose of the vaccine.”

“We understand the significant opportunity that a birth dose administration of hepatitis B vaccine presents in preventing the vertical transmission of hepatitis B from the mother to the child. This opportunity should not be missed, and as obstetricians and gynaecologist, we are uniquely placed to receive the baby and ensure that the hepatitis B vaccine is administered within hours of birth, while the mother and newborn baby are still under our care.”

Dr Roy Patankar, Gastroenterologist at Zen Multi-specialty Hospital said, “Mothers can pass hepatitis B virus to their babies while childbirth without knowing it, as it is transmitted via blood and body fluid. So it is always good to be aware of maternal status of virus by doing appropriate blood investigation. Younger babies are always at more risk of developing chronic hepatitis B (if infected), which is life-long disease and is potentially serious disease. By vaccination we can prevent young age hepatitis B, and related liver disease and liver cancer secondary to hepatitis B. In case, if the mother is infected, then there’s additional medicine called “hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG)” soon after baby is born.”

Dr Anurag Shrimal, Liver Transplant Surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital Mumbai Central said, “All pregnant mothers should be screened for hepatitis B. All infants should be vaccinated for it as a part of universal immunisation. These are the biggest steps forward to eliminate it from the society. Safe blood transfusion practices and good habits like not sharing the toothbrush, nail clippers and other personal items controls spread of hepatitis B. Early diagnosis and treatment now makes it possible to control hepatitis B and lead a normal life.”