Press Release

WHO acknowledges Turkmenistan’s achievement of regional hepatitis B control targets

06 November 2023

Hepatitis B is a significant public health challenge in the WHO European Region.

In 2019, 14 million people were estimated to be infected with HBV.  Hepatitis B is an infectious disease that attacks the liver and is a leading cause of liver cancer. 

WHO is working with countries to eliminate viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030. WHO Europe provides guidance and technical support to countries to strengthen their hepatitis B immunization programmes by implementing the Regional Action plan strategies, and monitors progress towards hepatitis B targets. With the support of WHO Turkmenistan developed “Strategic Plan on Strengthening Control Measures for Viral Hepatitis in Turkmenistan for the Period of 2019-2030” based on the goals and objectives set out in the WHO documents: “Global health sector strategy for viral hepatitis for 2016-2021” and “Health sector Action plan anti-viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region”.

Turkmenistan has implemented universal newborn vaccination against hepatitis B since 2002 and consistently reported high hepatitis B vaccination coverage. In addition, the country provides vaccination of risk groups and health care workers. In 2022, Turkmenistan conducted a nation-wide hepatitis B serosurvey, which demonstrated that the vaccination programme was successful in eliminating chronic hepatitis B in children born after universal vaccination: the prevalence of hepatitis B virus surface antigen in children aged 10 to 11 years was 0.1%.

To mark this significant milestone, on November 6, WHO Representative in Turkmenistan Dr. Egor Zaitsev handed a certificate validating the achievement of hepatitis B control targets in Turkmenistan to the Minister of Health Mr. Atageldi Germanov in presence of Mr. Nurmuhammet Ammanepesov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. The handover ceremony took place at the Turkmen State Medical University named after M. Garryev. The event brought together the high-level officials of the healthcare system of Turkmenistan, the heads of the UN Agencies in Turkmenistan and students of the Turkmen State Medical University. 

“Turkmenistan's experience in successful implementation of a vaccination programme against hepatitis B virus and assessment of its impact is very important for other countries. The World Health Organization will continue to support the Government of Turkmenistan in maintaining high vaccination coverage and ensuring effective prevention of perinatal transmission of hepatitis B in the future.” – said Dr. Egor Zaitsev, WHO Representative in Turkmenistan. 

The achievement clearly highlights Turkmenistan’s significant contribution to eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat in the WHO European Region and the global goal to end viral hepatitis until 2030.

Altynay Ishangulyyeva

UNV Communications Specialist

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