KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — The Health Ministry said today it will focus on eliminating mother-to-child transmission of Hepatitis B, after Malaysia became the first country in the Western Pacific to eradicate such transmissions in HIV and syphilis.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said a few states will begin pilot programmes of targeted screening for Hepatitis B among pregnant mothers, after which the programmes will be expanded to the entire country in stages.
“The nation is confident and committed to achieving eMTCT for Hepatitis B after this,” Dzulkefly said in a statement, referring to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission.
About one million people in Malaysia are reportedly chronically infected with the Hepatitis B virus. Some Hepatitis B carriers may suffer from liver cirrhosis, potentially leading to liver cancer and liver failure.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) presented Dzulkefly today with a certificate of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, during the 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific today in Manila, Philippines. Elimination means it is no longer a public health problem.
Malaysia started providing services in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and syphilis in 1998 and 1988 respectively.
According to the ministry, the programme reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV to less than 2 per cent in 2016, meeting the indicator for elimination status.
The mother-to-child transmission of syphilis has remained low at below 50 cases of congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births, meeting the elimination indicator, said the ministry.
In 2016, Malaysia recorded just four cases of congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births.
“More than 95 per cent of pregnant mothers went to clinics for checks and antenatal care at least once; more than 95 per cent of pregnant mothers did HIV and syphilis targeted screening; more than 95 per cent of HIV-positive mothers received antiretroviral treatment; and 100 per cent of mothers found to suffer from syphilis received the appropriate treatment,” said Dzulkefly.