|A newborn baby is vaccinated against hepatitis B at Quang Ngai General Hospital in the central Quang Ngai Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam is among nine countries in the West-Pacific region that face a serious threat of viral hepatitis B, the health ministry said yesterday.
It said this was evident from the infection rate of 10 to 20 per cent of the total population of Viet Nam.
The ministry's preventive health department said the World Health Organisation listed Viet Nam among countries that had alarming numbers of infected patients. The other eight countries are Cambodia, Kiribati, Laos and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu.
The cost of treating the disease is rather high. On average, a patient needed one to two years of treatment, costing VND60 to VND200 million (US$2,760-9,200) annually, the ministry said.
Vital hepatitis is the top cause of liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. About 25 per cent of the patients who suffer from vital hepatitis will develop liver cancer if they are not treated.
Currently, there is no special treatment to cure the disease. Vaccination is considered the most effective method to prevent it.
Figures from the WHO show that the hepatitis B virus is responsible for about one million deaths annually. — VNS