Epidemiology of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Viruses Among Pregnant Women at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), Malawi

Author: Charles Nkhata Memory Mvula Milton Kalongonda Martha Masamba Isaac Shawa

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022

Viral Hepatitis is a serious public health concern globally with deaths estimated at 1.4 million annually
due to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B and C are the most common
viruses that cause liver damage. However, the majority of infected individuals are unaware of their
serostatus. Viral hepatitis has contributed to maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. There is no
updated data on the Epidemiology of hepatitis B and C among pregnant mothers in Malawi.
The study was designed to assess the epidemiology of Hepatitis B and C viruses among pregnant
women at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among
pregnant women at QECH in last quarter of 2021. Of the 114 pregnant women, 96 participants were
consented and enrolled using a convenient sampling technique. 12 participants were dropped due to
various reasons; therefore 84 completed the study. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect
socio-demographic and behavior characteristics to assess the risk of exposure. Serum was processed
from venous blood samples and tested for HBsAg and Anti-HCV markers utilizing Rapid screening assays
for screening and Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay for confirmatory.
A total of 84 pregnant consenting pregnant women participated in the study, with 1.2% (n=1/84) testing
positive for HBsAg and nobody had detectable anti-HCV antibodies. There was no significant link
between HBV and HCV in any of the socio-demographic data or putative risk variables.
The findings indicate a viral hepatitis prevalence lower than the set range by the WHO. This suggests
that HBV and HCV are rare in pregnant women at QECH. Nevertheless, accessible screening for all
pregnant women should be provided. The prevention of MTCT is key for reduction and prevention of the
global burden of chronic viral hepatitis.
Disclosure of interest
None to declare.

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