By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Hepatitis E is found endemically in countries that have inadequate environmental sanitation. It is most frequently seen in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East.

Image/Alvaro1984 18

According to WHO, every year, there are an estimated 20 million hepatitis E infections worldwide, leading to an estimated 3.3 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E, and 44,000 hepatitis E-related deaths, the highest mortality being in pregnant women.

Now, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and South Sudan’s ministry of health are conducting a large-scale vaccination campaign in response to an outbreak of hepatitis E.

The campaign is being carried out in Bentiu’s camp for internally displaced people in South Sudan’s Unity State.

In March and April 2022, MSF and South Sudan’s ministry of health jointly carried out the first two rounds of the hepatitis E vaccination campaign in Bentiu. Approximately 25,000 people, including pregnant women, have received the vaccine. A third and final round will be conducted in October 2022.

Hecolin (Xiamen Innovax Biotech, Fujian, China), the only hepatitis E vaccine, was licensed in China in 2012. In its 2015 position paper on hepatitis E vaccines, WHO recommended the consideration of hepatitis E vaccination to control outbreaks, including in pregnant women. As of early 2022, a decade after its initial licensure, this three-dose vaccine had only been used within China for individuals travelling abroad to areas at high risk of hepatitis E.

The vaccination campaign in Bentiu is the first time it has been used in response to a public health emergency.

The success of the Bentiu vaccination campaign shows that it is possible to use the vaccine for outbreak response, even in difficult conditions– Bentiu is the largest displaced persons camp in South Sudan, established in 2014 at the height of the civil war. Today, approximately 112,000 people reside there, many having fled recent violence and flooding.