Laos still has a high prevalence of the hepatitis B virus, with 2007 data collected at blood transfusion centres indicating an 8.5 percent prevalence among Lao blood donors.

The data was collected and assessed through a collaborative effort between Lao, Thai and Japanese universities and medical institutions.

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

However, vaccination is an effective way of avoiding infection and preventing consequent liver diseases.

DKSH, the leading market expansion group with a focus on Asia, and Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi Aventis, held their first symposium of the year in Vientiane to encourage the use of hepatitis A and B vaccines.

After the introduction of Euvax B vaccines for children following on from the last symposium, DKSH Laos and Sanofi Pasteur are introducing more vaccines against hepatitis A and B, called Avaxim and Euvax B.

The aim of the symposium was to create more awareness in Laos of the two forms of hepatitis and how they can be prevented.