2022/2023 World Hepatitis Alliance Regional Board Member Elections
Below are the three regions where regional board member candidates are standing for election.
The election process will start on 10 January 2022. All voting members will have been informed of the full election process by email. If you are a voting member and have not received this information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aftab Ahmad Chattha – Pakistan
EMRO regional board member candidate
Board Member, Bridging Health Foundation
Aftab Ahmad’s biography
Dr. Aftab Ahmad was born in Punjab, Pakistan. He did his BS hons in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from University of the Punjab with distinction. He completed his M.Phil leading to PhD program from same university in cell biology. During his PhD time he worked twice in USA on research projects related to his field. He has done his post doc in tissue engineering from NAIST, Japan. He has over 60 research publication in well reputed journals and has won numerous national and international awards. He is also leading screen Pakistan program under NAYS Pakistan.
Aftab Ahmad’s personal statement
After my intermediate education in pre-medical, I wanted to be a medical doctor, I applied in Army Medical College (AMC) and cleared by entrance test but during medical exam, I was rejected due to Hepatitis B positive, in 2001. I got admission in BS hons program of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and wanted to do my research on Hepatitis because of which I could not become medical doctor. During my BS hons I worked on HBV vaccine preparation and worked on some novel ideas to make a therapeutic vaccine (expression of core and surface antigen). Later on I not only worked on Hepatitis B vaccine but also worked on therapeutic proteins in Pakistan and USA, to not only treat Hepatitis but also cancer (interferon, interferom-albumin chimeric protein, interferon-thymsin chimeric protein etc.). During my PhD I also worked on stem cell based treatment options for Hepatitis and other chronic diseases. For my post doc I worked on tissue engineering related projects in which I focused on natural liver scaffold preparation and growing pieces of liver in the laboratory so you do not have to get the piece of liver from the donor and you can grow patient’s own liver the laboratory for transplantation.
I have over 60 research articles in well reputed journals. Recently I won cash price of Rs. 200,000 in National Hepatitis C Hackathon for my world on paper based rapid hepatitis diagnostic kits. I also got job of Assistant Professor in Saudia Arabia but could not get VISA being HBsAg positive status.
During my PhD I also wrote a book on Hepatitis C to educate the public and it was published by Government of Pakistan (Urdu Science Board). Later I wrote books on Hepatitis B and C and we have published 3 issues of the book in local language and also published a book in English Language on Hepatitis B and C. All these books are available online. In addition, I was called by radio and TV programs to talk about hepatitis awareness which I do time to time. Moreover, I also wrote articles for hepatitis awareness for general public. I have arranged several screening camps across the country so we could do early diagnosis of hepatitis in Pakistan.
During my BS hons I became member of Sciforum Pakistan and later from 2006-10 served as President of Sciforum Pakistan. In 2009, I laid the foundation of Asia’s first National Young Academy (NYA) entitled National Academy of Young Scientists (NAYS), Pakistan and currently serving as President. NAYS is connected to over 50,000 young scientists of Pakistan working locally and overseas. I also became scientist member of World Economic Forum (WEF) (2012) and World Science Forum as well as Global Young Academy (GYA) (2010) and still playing my active role to promote science and awareness in Pakistan and the world. Being part of these forum, I have travelled to over 35 countries of the world to participate in different scientific and educational meetings as well as conferences.
I have good communications skills and have completed two certificate course on Science Communication (JICA, Italy and Duke University, USA). In addition, I have completed courses on Science Policy, Health Policy, Public Health and One Health from various organizations. Moreover, I am leading several programs related to science communication and awareness in Pakistan and the world. I have delivered lectures and trainings in over 100 universities of the Pakistan and the world. Being part of so many forums, I always lover to work in team and also have strong inter personal and leadership skills.
I have over 15 years of experience of working related to Hepatitis and faced so many challenges during this time that I do not want other should face, so I have a strong passion to eradicate Hepatitis from the world with my research as well as awareness related work. World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) is a great platform, working to eradicate Hepatitis form the world and it will be my great pleasure to be part of this prestigious platform in best of my capacity to work together with other stockholders with a mission to eradicate hepatitis from the world. I will definitely commit my time, efforts and will contribute actively. I always love to travel and explore the world so it will be my pleasure to travel around for meetings, educational and awareness related activities.
With this experience and background, I hope you will give me an opportunity to be part of this prestigious forum so I could play my role to eliminate Hepatitis. I am sure, you will be delighted by my work and efforts and achieve your goals on time.
Gamal Shiha – Egypt
EMRO regional board member candidate
Chairman, Association of Liver Patients Care (ALPC)
Gamal Shiha, MD, is a graduate of Faculty of medicine, Mansoura University with honor. He trained in internal medicine at the Mansoura University Hospital (MUH) and Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura, Egypt.
Shiha has been practicing since 1982, He is the Founder and Head of the Association of Liver Patients’ Care (ALPC), Dakahlia, Egypt since 1997. Also, Founder and CEO of the Egyptian Liver Research Institute and Hospital since 2011.
Shiha is also a Prof. Internal Medicine. Department Gastroenterology and liver unit; Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University.
Shiha recently elected Head of Education and scientific research committee in the Egyptian parliament.
Gamal’s personal statement
Throughout medical school I have committed myself to finding the one specialty that aligns perfectly with my personality and future goals to help my community. After exploring other specialties, I reflected on the qualities that I wished to possess as a physician. I envisioned myself as compassionate, respected, and knowledgeable, traits which I realized embodied the field of internal medicine.
I realized the questions I had asked relied upon my ability to combine my knowledge of
pathophysiology along with the clinical presentation of a disease process. At last I
comprehended the importance of the basic science years as it related to patient care. I
continued to follow my patients, and the responsibility of caring for someone’s health had both a significant impact on me. Although I was only a small part of their care, I still felt connected. It made me conscious of the potential rewards, such as lasting patient-doctor relationships, which could only come out of providing a lifetime of care to each of my patients.
In 1997, I founded the Association of Liver Patients’ Care (ALPC), a non-governmental organization to provide free treatment, free investigation and free medications for poor hepatic patients, and help their families. It aims to raise the awareness of prevention of liver diseases by holding conferences, campaigns, seminars and public lectures. It also holds specialized workshops for doctors to raise their efficiency.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with Chronic HCV that was at early stages and I got treated and I am totally HCV free now.
In 2011, The association established Egyptian Liver Research Institute And Hospital (ELRIAH) a hospital and institute of liver research to be number one in the Arabic Area. The hospital is in Sherbin near Mansoura. includes the outpatient clinics, laboratories, pharmacy, Endoscope unit, diagnostic and interventional radiology unit (sonars – C.T. scan), surgical unit & specialized Research unit. The hospital provide Free care to poor hepatic patients and to their families in the heart of the highest hepatitis burned community .
In 2015, I started a campaign (Village Free from Hepatitis) a community-based outreach model (educate, test and treat) for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C & B. We reached a 100 Village across Egypt free from hepatitis in 2019 with screening of more than 250,000 villagers and offering treatment to more than 35,000 hepatitis patients. Also we
devoted a huge part of our campaign to educate the community and increase the awareness
about hepatitis and its complications specially during world hepatitis day that our organization participated in it every year. We published our work in the 100 villages in Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology to help the world with our experience to achieve the WHO 2030 hepatitis elimination goals.
For my contribution in hepatology field I was awarded in 2019 the (Great mentor award) by APASL & also received the (State Appreciation Award in Medical Sciences) from Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology. in 2021, I received (Hepatitis Elimination Champion award) by Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination
Dr Alioune Coulibaly – Mali
AFRO regional board member candidate
President, APSAD Mali
Dr. Alioune Coulibaly is a medical doctor from Mali, holding a master degree in Public Health Option Community Health. President of the Association for Mali Health and Development Promotion APSAD/MALI, he is also the World Hepatitis Alliance WHA Board Member for the African region. Since 2013 Dr Coul has been a pioneer for the Campaign of Hepatitis B Transmission Prevention from Mother to Child in Mali and hope to have this strategy implemented in every African country.
Alioune’s personal statement
Back in 2015, when we were engaged as Africa Hepatitis civil society, on the advocacy for the Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2016-2021 towards viral hepatitis by 2030, we had great expectations in regards of pertinent strategies planned. Unfortunately, despite great achievements performed globally, the situation has not changed much in Africa, the number of patients in Africa increased instead of decreasing. Analysis pointed out the deficit of political engagement of African governments. During the ending mandate we have been successful to keep Hepatitis B Prevention of Mother to Child PMTCT on the viral hepatitis control on the development agenda. But the implementation remains a major problem by lack of funding. There is need to engage African leaders in order to put in place a hepatitis funds in Africa. As I will be attending the first ladies satellite meeting on PMTCT at ICASA 2021, with African first Ladies through OAFLAD, as well as WHO AU and partners we will work on possibilities hot to make Hepatitis Funding a reality in Africa. We cannot expect support from elsewhere without starting the dynamic ourselves. Intervention on grounds are concerned. Regional African Banks, and others financial structure should be supporting Hepatitis control as it is a necessity for Africa business and development.
Also, Africa has a specific Health System Strengthening issues. As the regional board member, we need to have the opportunity to collaborate directly with the African Union and AFRO WHO as well as funding structures and opportunities directly knowing that World Hepatitis Alliance has structural limitations as far as intervention on grounds are concerned. Regional African Banks, and others financial structures should be supporting Hepatitis control as it is necessity for Africa development. As details will be bring how to have a unified African Hepatitis structure even if some African countries are not members of AFRO World Health Organization. Once we find a way to make HEPB PMTCT measures free for all African pregnant women, the rest of the population will receive HEP B and HEP C continuum care at lowest price.
Also, as a Hepatitis B patient diagnosed in USA I understand quite well what patients are going through and I am to do all my best to reduce this burden as much as possible. For more details watch my video message at the World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2021. Together let’s make Hepatitis elimination a reality in Africa by 2030. Thanks to all the members and partners in Hepatitis fight. Together and united we will be stronger.
Kenneth Kabagambe – Uganda
AFRO regional board member candidate
Executive Director, The National Organisation for People Living with Hepatitis B (NOPLHB)
Kenneth holds a Bachelor of Arts Social Sciences from Makerere University Kampala. He is currently a student of MPH at Uganda Martyrs University. Founding Director of NOPLHB the only patient driven organisation in Uganda. He belongs to various national, regional and international committees that is Hepatitis Technical Working Committee for the Ministry of Health Uganda, African Union Viral Hepatitis Technical Working Group and he is part of the Board of Directors of The Hepatitis Fund. He has founded the Africa Hepatitis Initiative (AHI) a regional organisation whose focus is to mitigate the impact of viral Hepatitis in Africa.
Kenneth’s personal statement
My journey began while I was studying at Makerere University in the Ugandan capital of Kampala back in 2009, when I lost a close friend to a long battle with Hepatitis B.
The loss had a profound impact on my thinking about Hepatitis B, I therefore gathered 12 like-minded friends to fight the disease uphold the dignity of people living with it and raise awareness around it. And in a twist of fate that further placed the disease at the centre my life, when I too, was diagnosed with hepatitis B in 2012.
I had to become a voice for those living with hepatitis B, and due to the stigma, discrimination, isolation and the lack of public knowledge around the infection, I have gone public with my status to break the silence.
You can live a full, dignified life with Hepatitis B, but the most important thing is prevention, especially vaccination in new-borns. For adults, testing, linking to care, education and treatment as needed are crucial as there is no cure, treatment is often lifelong for Hepatitis B, I founded Uganda’s National Organization for People Living with Hepatitis B in 2012 and this has continued to be a brand organization in advocating for patients’ rights to proper diagnosis, care and linkage to care while creating awareness that has ensured a dedicated domestic funding towards Hepatitis B program.
With support from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), my organization was registered as a non-government organization in 2012 and is now a household name in Uganda and beyond.
Over the years, we’ve been working hard for more government support, and we’re quite proud that Uganda was one of the first African s to fund domestic action against hepatitis B.
With investments of around US$ 3 million a year, Uganda embarked on a massive, free hepatitis B screening programme in 2015, along with widespread community mobilization and awareness-raising actions. More than 10 million people have been screened. More than 30% of the population who are infected with hepatitis B are now aware of their status and can access comprehensive treatment services, including free medication. That’s a first in Africa and surpasses the 2020 target of 20%.
I still have clear demands and expectations of what still needs to be done.
African nations must fund domestic efforts to prevent the spread of both hepatitis B and C. Patients are really concerned about this. They want action and this can only be achieved with someone who has created strong collaborations with his government and to replicate to the rest of African countries.
I also task all African governments to swiftly start work on their own action plans at home, and we need far more action on awareness raising, as you simply cannot prevent something you know nothing about.
With my previous tenure as Board for African region at the World Hepatitis Alliance, I was able to showcase that Africa can also host high level meetings that would see patients plight. The Egyptian Presidential Initiative to treat 1 million Africans in Sub Saharan Africa for Hepatitis C was a great stride that has started benefiting patients and this requires a clear minded focused person to follow up so that all African countries receive a share. I am coming back to effect this and continue with strengthening the patient voices amidst Covid 19 challenges.
With close working with Gavi Alliance and appreciating that birth dose is the most effective way of eliminating Hepatitis B in the future generations, the fate is now to ensure that advocacy at high level with global and regional partners and stakeholders include the key players the patients organizations in Africa and this will be my major focus and I already see the goodwill and open discussion that requires a personality that has tested experience.
With tested resource mobilization skills, there is need to change the tactics to suit the current situation and I will introduce capacity building training programs for the African organizations to equip and get empowered in fundraising and project proposal writings. We have already started this program and the program open to all interested members. The feedback is so far positive but requires a bigger audience to benefit more and all African organizations.
With the current involvement with the Hepatitis Fund, I think I will be the best candidate to take on this role so that I coordinate the African patient issues at both the World Hepatitis Alliance and The Hepatitis Fund which is the only grant making organizations dedicated for eliminating Viral Hepatitis.
Lien Tran – Australia
WPRO regional board member candidate
WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis, Doherty Institute
Lien is a Vietnamese researcher at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis, Doherty Institute, Australia. Her research focuses on hepatitis B care delivery in primary care. She is an active advocate for people and communities affected by hepatitis at national and international level. Her advocacy is grounded on personal and professional experience with constant exposure to affected community, health professionals, researchers, and policy makers. Lien co-founded and moderates an online support group for Vietnamese living with hepatitis in Australia with more than 650 members. She is current Regional Board Member for the World Hepatitis Alliance, representing the WHO Western Pacific Region
Lien’s personal statement
I was diagnosed with hepatitis B in early 2000s at my first year at university. The diagnosis took away my opportunity to study in Europe as the doctor who diagnosed me told me that with hepatitis B, I was not allowed to go overseas. Without a doubt, I blindly trusted him as a superior and declined the scholarship that I had been awarded earlier. My life path changed because of that diagnosis. Going through the fear and devastated stages, I am now proud that I have been publicly speaking about my condition, my experiences, and my journey to break down barriers for people living with hepatitis.
As a proud wife, mother of two now and being inspired to work for the cause, I want to show people living with viral hepatitis, especially those living with hepatitis B in the Western Pacific Region that we can still live a fulfilling life despite the diagnosis. We are not defined by and we are much more than that diagnosis.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 115 million people living with hepatitis B and 14 million people living with hepatitis C in our Western Pacific region, with 1,200 people die daily because they do not have access to effective hepatitis care. At my current workplace of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis (WHOCC VH) at Doherty Institute, my colleagues work collaboratively with the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) to support countries in the region to improve the hepatitis diagnosis and care towards the elimination targets. Being within the team provides me with more understanding about the region’s progress from a professional perspective and with support from WHA member organisations, I would be honoured to provide feedback timely and on a regular basis to the activities implemented in the region. This is about and to make sure that people with lived experiences and civil societies are at heart of the hepatitis response, and to make sure that “leave no one behind” is not just a slogan.
During the last two years being Board member representing the Western Pacific Region, I have been honoured to hear from many of our WHA members, many community members which I am so grateful for. During that, I have witnessed that our voices were making impacts on various levels and it has made me even more committed and energised to continue working to strengthen our voices.
My grandmother died of liver cancer when I was 6. My mother lives with hepatitis B. I live with hepatitis B. These facts were never discussed in our family before.
My daughters are hepatitis B free. I read the book “Little Hep B Hero” with them so they know about my hepatitis B and it is really sweet hearing their caring questions about how I feel from time to time. The book was the result of a community effort that I had the opportunity to coordinate in 2016-2018 and proudly presented at the 2nd World Hepatitis Summit in 2017.
At times, I think of hepatitis B as our “family heritage” and pleased it was broken at my generation and my kids are free from hepatitis B. I am even more pleased that we now can talk about hepatitis B comfortably in the family. The silence has been broken.
It is with great thanks and happiness to recognise that I have finally felt less stigmatised and guilty of living with hepatitis B. This has been contributed by putting myself forward to speak up about it. Each time I speak up in front of people, either at meetings, conferences or on media, I feel empowered when being listened and seeing the impact.
I will be honoured to receive support from WHA members in the WPRO to continue with my 2nd term with the Board and I am committed to work together with you all and advocate for global committments to fight viral hepatitis.