Hepatitis B in Albanian refugees across Southeast Europe: from epidemiology to vaccination and prevention policy

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Annals of Gastroenterology
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2007 (EL)
Hepatitis B in Albanian refugees across Southeast Europe: from epidemiology to vaccination and prevention policy (EN)

B.F. Resuli, E.V. Tsianos, K.H. Katsanos,

SUMMARY In 1991, a serious political and socioeconomic crisis in Albania caused a massive migration of refugees to Northwestern Greece (Ioannina region) and to the Apulia region of Southern Italy. Seroepidemiological data on viral hepatitis marker distribution of among refugees indicated a high HBV infection endemicity in these Albanian refugees. More updated epidemiological information on hepatitis B marker prevalence of the young, non-vaccinated Albanian population became available through the national Greek- Albanian collaborative study on prevention of viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma (known with the acronym as the HEPAGA study). This study showed that 11.89% of the tested Albanian group was HBsAg(+) while only 21.19% of the group were immunoprotected against HBV. A critical point for all countries to reach or fail to reach the 1997 WHO targets is their social and political commitment to preventive medicine and vaccines, besides their effort to inform and educate both the general public and medical societies. In Southeastern Europe, where acute and chronic HBV infection is a major health problem, selected riskgroup vaccination policy will have no impact on this infection and will not be able to control further transmission from this HBsAg(+) young, carrier pool. In addition, the increasing number of immigrants from high to intermediate or low endemicity regions such as Greece and Italy forms a new dynamic epidemiology of hepatitis B transmission. Sustaining available vaccination programmes against HBV is one of the greatest challenges for the near future. Other challenges are increasing vaccine coverage, continuous support in order to maintain a sustainable supply of vaccine and other related facilities and, finally, to successfully monitor the effectiveness of currently implemented vaccination programmes. Key words: Hepatitis B, refugees, epidemiology, vaccination, Albania, Greece (EN)


Αγγλική γλώσσα


Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology (EN)

Annals of Gastroenterology; Volume 17, No 2 (2004) (EN)

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