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Findings from a hepatitis B birth dose assessment in health facilities in the Philippines: opportunities to engage the private sector
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    Hepatitis B vaccination in the Philippines was introduced in 1992 to reduce the high burden of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the population; in 2007, a birth dose (HepB-BD) was introduced to decrease perinatal HBV transmission. Timely HepB-BD coverage, defined as doses given within 24 hours of birth, was 40% nationally in 2011. A first step in improving timely HepB-BD coverage is to ensure that all newborns born in health facilities are vaccinated.


    In order to assess ways of improving the Philippines’ HepB-BD program, we evaluated knowledge, attitudes, and practices surrounding HepB-BD administration in health facilities. Teams visited selected government clinics, government hospitals, and private hospitals in regions with low reported HepB-BD coverage and interviewed immunization and maternity staff. HepB-BD coverage was calculated in each facility for a 3 month period in 2011.


    Of the 142 health facilities visited, 12 (8%) did not provide HepB-BD; seven were private hospitals and five were government hospitals. Median timely HepB-BD coverage was 90% (IQR 80%–100%) among government clinics, 87% (IQR 50%–97%) among government hospitals, and 50% (IQR 0%–90%) among private hospitals (p=0.02). The private hospitals were least likely to receive supervision (53% versus 6%–31%, p=0.0005) and to report vaccination data to the national Expanded Programme on Immunization (36% vs. 96%–100%, p<0.0001).


    Private sector hospitals in the Philippines, which deliver 18% of newborns, had the lowest timely HepB-BD coverage. Multiple avenues exist to engage the private sector in hepatitis B prevention including through existing laws, newborn health initiatives, hospital accreditation processes, and raising awareness of the government’s free vaccine program.

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