Vaccine Volume 35, Issue 34, Pages 4295-4450 (3 August 2017)
Improving hepatitis B birth dose coverage through village health volunteer training and pregnant women education
Original Research Article
Xi Li, James Heffelfinger, Eric Wiesen, Sergey Diorditsa, Jayaprakash Valiakolleri, Agnes Bauro Nikuata, Ezekial Nukuro, Beia Tabwaia, Joseph Woodring
Hepatitis B is highly endemic in the Republic of Kiribati, while the coverage of timely birth dose vaccination, the primary method shown to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus, was only 66% in 2014. Children born at home are especially at high risk, as they have limited access to timely birth dose (i.e. within 24 h) vaccination. To improve birth dose coverage, a project to improve linkages between village health volunteers and health workers and educate pregnant women on hepatitis B vaccination was carried out in 16 communities with low birth dose coverage in Kiribati from November 2014 to May 2015. After project completion, the coverage of timely birth dose administration increased significantly both in the densely populated capital region of South Tarawa (from 89% to 95%, p=0.001) and the Outer Islands (from 57% to 83%, p<0.001). The coverage of timely birth dose administration among infants born at home increased significantly from 70% to 84% in South Tarawa (p=0.001) and from 49% to 75% in the Outer Islands (p<0.001). Timely birth dose was associated with being born in a hospital, being born during the study period and caregivers having developed an antenatal birth dose plan. The project demonstrates a successful model for improving hepatitis B vaccine birth dose coverage that could be adopted in other areas in Kiribati as well as other similar settings.