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A review of chronic hepatitis B epidemiology and management issues in selected countries in the Middle East


  • Specialist Panel on Chronic Hepatitis B in the Middle East

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    • Specialist Panel on Chronic Hepatitis B in the Middle East members:
      Ayman A. Abdo (Saudi Arabia), Ahmed M. S. Abdou (UAE), Ulus Salih Akarca (Turkey), Abdulrahman A. Aljumah (Saudi Arabia), Ghafoor Amir (Pakistan), Khalid Bzeizi (Saudi Arabia), Jonathan Dixon (UK), Nazeeh Z. Al Dweik (Qatar), Manal H El-Sayed (Egypt), Gamal Esmat (Egypt), Ahmad Jazzar (Syria), Ibrahim Mostafa (Egypt), Arif Amir Nawaz (Pakistan)

Gamal Esmat, Professor of Hepatology and Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cairo, Cairo, Egypt. E-mail:


Summary.  Experts from seven countries convened as a Specialist Panel for the Middle East to share information on practical issues relating to the epidemiology, diagnosis and management of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection. The Middle East is regarded as a region of high-to-intermediate epidemicity; however, infant vaccination programmes have successfully lowered the prevalence of hepatitis B infection in most countries to that of low-to-intermediate endemicity. Vaccine issues still to be addressed included improving coverage in some rural/poor communities, instituting hepatitis B vaccine at birth and providing vaccines for high-risk population groups. Hepatitis B infection in the Middle East primarily occurs as a result of perinatal infection, horizontal transmission between family members and transmission from injections. Blood transfusion services have broadly efficient screening programmes, but immunocompromised and haemodialysis patients are at risk. The cost of screening, monitoring and treating CHB influences practice in a number of Middle East countries, and there is a need for information on the most cost-effective options.