September 2017: Viral Hepatitis Laboratory Assessment in Mongolia 2017
Mongolia has the highest hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in the Western Pacific region, and also has a high burden of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis delta virus (HDV). To address this burden, the Mongolian government approved the Healthy Liver Program (HLP) Resolution in April this year to stop HBV transmission and eliminate HCV. To achieve this goal, the Mongolian Ministry of Health (MOH) informally requested the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide technical support to review and assess the quality and technical capacity of hepatitis laboratories in Mongolia. The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPR) conducted the assessment jointly with Margaret Littlejohn and Theo Karapanagiotidis from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL), and Susie Braniff from the NRL.
The laboratory assessment teams carried out brief site visits for laboratory assessments at 21 of the public and private laboratories designated to perform HCV viral load testing, using a custom checklist, developed for this mission. The site visits also included primary and secondary health care facilities in one province, comprising a family health care centre, a Soum health care centre, a WHO mobile health unit and the district hospital. Following the site visits the laboratory assessment team reported its findings to the MOH in Ulaanbaatar.
Recommendations have been made to help strengthen the quality of rapid testing and the collection, storage and transport of samples across the testing network. Mongolia is currently leading the world in implementing viral hepatitis screening of the entire population to stop HBV transmission and eliminate HCV. The site visits carried out by the laboratory assessment teams have identified potential areas of improvement to assist the Healthy Liver Program to successfully meet its goals.