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China:Gears up for World Immunization Week

(Beijing) Nearly 180 countries across the world are marking the last week of April as the World Immunization Week. The week coincided with the 29th National Child Vaccination Awareness Day in China on Friday.

This year’s theme is Stop Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer; Vaccinate at Birth. Over the years, China has made steady strides in the fight against preventable illnesses.

Diseases such as polio, measles, and whooping cough have been eliminated or brought under control by vaccines, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

More work, however, remains to be done.

According to Li Quanle, an official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the number of children vaccinated for hepatitis B in 10 Chinese regions declined by 30 percent at the end of last year.

The hepatitis B virus can cause chronic liver disease and infection, and increase the risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Official figures show that China has 93 million carriers of hepatitis B. Each year, 280,000 people in the country die from diseases related to the virus.

Experts have warned that future costs in human life and to the economy could be extensive, if vaccination rates are not improved.

(With inputs from Xinhua)

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