Key outcomes and addressing remaining challenges-Perspectives from a final evaluation of the China GAVI project
During the China GAVI project, implemented between 2002 and 2010, more than 25 million children received hepatitis B vaccine with the support of project, and the vaccine proved to be safe and effective. With careful consideration for project savings, China and GAVI continually adjusted the budget, additionally allowing the project to spend operational funds to support demonstration projects to improve timely birth dose (TBD), conduct training of EPI staff, and to monitor the project impact. Results from the final evaluation indicated the achievement of key outcomes. As a result of government co-investment, human resources at county level engaged in hepatitis B vaccination increased from 29 per county on average in 2002 to 66 in 2009. All project counties funded by the GAVI project use auto-disable syringes for hepatitis B vaccination and other vaccines. Surveyed hepatitis B vaccine coverage increased from 71% in 2002 to 93% in 2009 among infants. The HBsAg prevalence declined from 9.67% in 1992 to 0.96% in 2006 among children under 5 years of age. However, several important issues remain: (1) China still accounts for the largest annual number of perinatal HBV infections (estimated 84,121) in the WHO WPR region; (2) China still lacks a clear national policy for safe injection of vaccines; (3) vaccination of high risk adults and protection of health care workers are still not implemented; (4) hepatitis B surveillance needs to be refined to more accurately monitor acute hepatitis B; and (5) a program for treatment of persons with chronic HBV infection is needed. Recommendations for future hepatitis B control include: using the lessons learned from the China GAVI project for future introductions of new vaccines; addressing unmet needs with a second generation hepatitis B program to reach every infant, including screening mothers, and providing HBIG for infants born to HBsAg positive mothers; expanding vaccination to high risk adults; addressing remaining unsafe injection issues; and improving monitoring of acute hepatitis B. This paper describes findings and discusses perspectives from a final project evaluation, a national stratified validated cross-sectional survey done in October 2010.