With the security of the continent’s borders tightening, countries may soon introduce passports that come with the hepatitis B vaccine.
South Africa is in the midst of reviewing a law that allows citizens of bordering nations to travel freely there, a move intended to stem a surge in the spread of the disease within the borders, The Times of South Africa reported.
The country, which is home to 11 million people, has historically had some of the highest rates of the disease, which causes liver inflammation and is difficult to treat without treatment.
In March, South Africa offered free vaccinations to travelers, including those from Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Southern African Swine Fever Surveillance Network, which works to monitor the virus, reports the South African spread has reached 95 percent of the country.
But with an estimated 1.6 million residents living with hepatitis B, experts are warning that the African country may see even more instances of the disease, according to Mother Jones.
Hepatitis B is responsible for 1 million cases of liver disease annually in Africa, as many as 350,000 cases in South Africa alone, the International Hepatitis Group (IHG) reports.
As South Africa considering creating a hepatitis B vaccination visa, the Association of South African Veterinary Veterinarians said that countries will have to analyze the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in areas of Africa where it hasn’t been used before.
“It’s highly unlikely that anyone could get into the country while infected with hepatitis B unless they are part of a closely linked group – usually the same sex or of the same ethnic origin – particularly if they have children and are involved in close, family-oriented activities,” a recent Mother Jones report stated.
South Africa is looking to welcome 15,000 migrants into the country annually until next year.