Inner-city mothers with HBV
Hepatitis Midwife Zainab Jalloh tells us eight heartbreaking things she's learnt about hepatitis B, and how it inspired her to set up the 'We Give All' charity.
"It is my job to help London mums and their babies through maternity and child birth safely. For many years I have witnessed the large numbers of Inner City mums with HBV and their children suffer. This entire epidemic needs to be brought into the open and everybody needs to know about it."
1. It is the silence on HBV that is causing the most harm
"Globally HBV has infected 60 times more people than HIV, yet the 1,500 London mums diagnosed every year are still asking “What is that?” I come from a nation where half the children catch HBV, where like chickenpox if one child gets it they all get it, where it kills every 30 seconds. We have the tools to tackle HBV, we have a lot of medical staff now from nations who know the children need protecting, let us eliminate this “child hepatitis” epidemic once and for all."
2. HBV is 100 times more infectious in blood than HIV
"Transfer to children often occurs in wounds during birth, and between children and adults when playing. It is onward infectious from an endemic parent population to its children."
3. Children and HBV mothers in Sierra Leone
"Our new charity, We Give All, has found Sierra Leone to have an 8% HBV prevalence. We now have lessons to share on how to manage universal vaccinations, which Sierra Leone has done from 2006. Furthermore, we can donate excellent vaccines to help them, and in turn they can provide extensive wisdom in rolling out vaccinations."
4. HBV is a very deadly virus
"My mission to raise awareness of HBV and eliminate it here in the UK and help the ongoing battle in my homeland Sierra Leone, is because it is so deadly: my father died of it recently. Suddenly, after years undiagnosed, people simply get liver cancer in middle age. There is no cure for liver cancer, my father survived it for just 4 months. We need to test our people far more, we need to notice whole inner city areas have been testing endemic (2% infected) for years."
5. UK children are 4x more infected with HBV than adults are with HIV
"Studies looked at the prevalence of child HBV in Hospitals PHE/HPA (17,121 tests), between 2008 and 2015. They found 0.7% of UK children incurable for HBV."
6. 60,000 UK mothers have incurable HBV at 3 months pregnant
"We found 1,500 London mums tested positive for HBV in 2012, and yet just 800 children got vaccinated in the same year. There is no further records or information for these women. There is no pathway to counseling for these women. Many never understand what their infection is or how to vaccinate their children."
7. HBV vaccination is every child’s human right
"We can prevent this disease; we can eliminate this tripling epidemic, we can vaccinate the children at risk, we can have counselling for the mothers in desperate need. HBV child vaccinations are not an option, they are the only way of eliminating HBV and stopping our children being 30 times more infected than their EU and US counterparts."
8. HBV vaccination finally starts in the UK from October 2017
"27 years after the USA and most developed nations, the UK will begin using the HBV vaccination. But we need to offer catch up vaccinations to the 12 million children who have missed them and find the 35 to 50,000 children already infected with HBV."
Find out more
For expert advice, call The Hepatitis B Positive Trust:
0800 206 1899