2022 World Hepatitis Alliance Regional Board Member Elections

Below are the regions where regional board member candidates have been nominated. Canididates biographies and personal statements are included. As per the WHA by-laws, where there is only a single candidate nominated for each region, those candidates will automatically be elected to begin their two-year term, beginning January 1 2023. Voting will open for SEARO candidates on Friday 18 November and will close midnight GMT on Sunday 4 December 2023. Voting members will be emailed details on how to take part.

PAHO candidates

Patricia Velez-Moller – Guatemala

PAHO regional board member candidate

Vice – president, Asosiacion Guatemalteca del Higado

Patricia’s biography

Co-founder and Board Member of Guatemalan Liver Association, member of Guatemala National Task Force on Hepatitis, Board Member of World Hepatitis Alliance. As a medical professional, faculty member and patient with hepatitis C she has advocated against unawareness and stigma surrounding hepatitis and contributed to a better quality of life for those affected by viral hepatitis through different activities including the development of Ministry of Health Hepatitis B & C Guidelines, hepatitis vaccination and testing campaigns with linkage to care, patient education and continuing medical education (CME) to health professionals, as well as advising on viral hepatitis elimination efforts to different entities.

Patricia’s personal statement

I decided to apply for the position of regional board member of the World Hepatitis Alliance for PAHO because some members from Latin America asked for it because they feel supported by me.

During two periods (four years) as PAHO Board I have acquired comprehensive knowledge and experience in this position, have supported members who asked for and, above all, have the commitment to fight against hepatitis from all angles of my life.

I can contribute to the vision, mission and activities of the Alliance in this region of the world.

I will mention some experiences I have had to show that I can fulfil the responsibilities of this position:

-In 1994 I learned I had Anti-VHC. I am a doctor by profession, and a continuous learner – this gave me the advantage to understand the disease and all that it entails. But that did not stop me from feeling afraid of dying prematurely due to cirrhosis or liver cancer or feeling the need for more integrated, more humane health care. In the United States, I had the first viral loads to monitor my treatments with interferon, and there I also found, on the internet, people with hepatitis C who shared their experiences with me and made me enter the world of the patient, which until then, I knew very little about! I also started to meet patients from my country and learned about their experiences. All these interactions helped me to recognize my new self as a patient.

-The stigma and pain of having a disease that had no cure and that could possibly kill me, tempered my character and strengthened my willingness to fight so that people with hepatitis B and C had an opportunity to understand, learn to cope with their illness, to support themselves and to share with others in the support group that I started a year after being diagnosed.

-I establish the Guatemalan Liver Association.

-That is why I understand very well the patient’s needs in the long journey of illness.

-As a medical doctor, I have had opportunities to learn and understand the disease, to receive health care, and I was able to buy my treatment with generic DAAs in another country. Unfortunately, most of my compatriots do not have these opportunities which is why I have carried out multiple actions so that people with hepatitis receive treatment and comprehensive care.

-I have advocated expediting the issuance of health licenses of DAAs, so that patients could receive treatment, first with pegylated interferon and now with DAAs. I have also advocated for the establishment of the national technical task force on hepatitis, where I represent civil society and the academy.

-I urged the Ministry of Health to include screening for hepatitis in pregnant women and to purchase tests and treatments.

-I have organized and coordinated with other institutions such as the Ministry of Health, the state university, professional associations, NGOs, the private sector and PAHO, events of the World Hepatitis Day, testing and vaccination campaigns, voluntary blood donations. I received some donations and price reductions for treatments for patients with hepatitis C.

-As a university teacher I have formally trained doctors and other health professionals about hepatitis C awareness and enable them to better understand patients. I have organized and given lectures on prevention of infections during health care and on safe injections. Living with hepatitis C changed my vision of life and my way of approaching illnesses. I no longer do it only from the point of view of the one that provides health care, but also as a patient who has fears and needs that the health system, and other people, rarely understand.

-I have been able to share with people affected by hepatitis; I have suffered with them the death of companions due to cirrhosis or liver cancer. I have also been happy for the ones that have been cured and I continue to fight with others who are waiting to receive treatment. I have also shared with patient groups in the region, and I know that we are united not only by our struggle and our vision but also by similarities in our societies and health systems. I no longer have HCV, so now, I add another challenge: find and help those who have hepatitis but still do not know it. I want them to be cured before they have cirrhosis, because it is not fair that despite available treatment, they do not receive it.

During last two years I participated in the elaboration of Guatemalan Guidelines for Hepatitis B and C published online and printed.

Finally, I not favour any pharmaceutical enterprise, I am not a member of any political party or have political aspirations. I have valid passport, visa and can communicate in English.

SEARO candidates

Reazul Islam –Bangladesh

SEARO regional board member candidate

Life Member, National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh

Reazul’s biography

  • Assistant Professor of English in a College in Bangladesh.
  • A PhD Researcher in a University in Malaysia.
  • Diagnosed HBV positive since 2001.
  • Diagnosed as a Liver Cirrhosis Patient in 2009.
  • Undergone liver transplant at BIRDEM General Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh in August 2011.
  • Passing healthy life after liver transplant.
  • Presently father of three daughters – two were born after transplantation.
  • Life Member of the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh.
  • My hepatitis story is on the World Hepatitis Alliance official website. https://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/story/muhammad-reazul-islam/

Reazul’s personal statement

As I am a survivor of HBV liver cirrhosis & liver transplant. I always believe that I have moral obligation & responsibilities to dedicate myself for prevention of viral hepatitis & stand beside the viral hepatitis affected patients. I should work for prevention, myths & misconceptions about viral hepatitis. Also work against stigma & discrimination faced by the viral hepatitis patients in the different aspects of their life.  I shall share my story of long suffering with HBV, its treatment since 2001 & liver cirrhosis in 2009. Finally successful liver transplant in Bangladesh 11 years back in 2011.I shall also advise the liver transplant recipients of how to proceed for liver transplant & maintain disciplined post-transplant life as a decent example of my survival.  I have been engaged in awareness, prevention & philanthropic activities for many years.

In fact, after my liver transplantation, I became an active life member of the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh and participated in the viral hepatitis awareness and prevention programs around the country. This is being conducted under the leadership of Prof Mohammad Ali, my chief liver transplant surgeon & founder of the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh.

I believe, if I am elected as a Board member of the WHA, It will have an opportunity to contribute to the control of viral hepatitis in the SEARO countries of WHA. I shall dedicate myself to the fundamentals of elimination 2030 goals, like Vaccination, Prevention of mother to child transmission of HBV (PMTCT), Injection & blood safety, harm reduction & treatment of viral hepatitis patients to achieve elimination 2030 goals in SEARO & globally. 

My living life will be truly successful if I can contribute to viral hepatitis prevention & provide guidance for the sufferer in different steps of their illness. 

T.C. Sivaraman –India

SEARO regional board member candidate

Hepatitis Awareness Enthusiast, Chennai Liver Foundation 

Sivaraman’s biography

I am Sivaraman Sales & Marketing Professional and a Hepatitis Awareness Enthusiast  interested in the eradicating Hepatitis by 2030 initiative of WHA .

I have been involved in WHA activities from 2010 and used to send regular Reports from India (post Hepatitis day ) all activities published to WHA , I am instrumental in conducting two Guinness records of WHA in India.

I am interested in this role to spread awareness and support WHA in the eradication of Hepatitis

 

Sivaraman’s personal statement

Hepatitis can be eradicated by 2030 and I will play my part of spreading awareness about Hepatitis.

I always believe awareness needs consistent messaging and follow-up. Hepatitis will be eradicated in two ways.

One is creating awareness about the disease, second is creating advocacy for prevention of disease.First one needs more enthusiasts on the ground to spread awareness, second one is impressing the influencers in private and public to prioritise the prevention aspect through vaccination and making Hepatitis as priority disease. 

I have been instrumental in conducting WHA Guninness records in India in 2012 & 2013. Gist: 13,000 schoolchildren take a pledge to teach others about viral hepatitis and take steps to avoid it in Coimbatore, India, for World Hepatitis Day 2013. They also took part in a global Guinness World Record attempt organise by WHA.

I have been invited as a faculty member by WHA (fully sponsored) for the First Glasgow Summit to speak about Advocacy.

“Each one Teach ten”

“Let’s spread the Awareness not Myth”

“If not now! When?”

“Vaccination is gift for lovable ones”