Highlighting the importance of patient advocacy at international conferences

31 Mar 2015 Bridie Taylor

24th Conference of the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL), Istanbul, Turkey, 12 – 15 March

Patient led advocacy is vital in generating change within the hepatitis community and persuading governments to adopt national strategies. This month we used APASL as an opportunity to highlight the global importance of this. Co-hosting a symposium with CEVHAP and ELPA entitled “Reduce the Burden of Viral Hepatitis from East to West”, the World Hepatitis Alliance delivered a presentation on the fundamental role patients play in advocacy efforts. WHA President Charles Gore stressed this point with the example of successful HIV/AIDS advocacy and how efforts have led to more resources and fewer deaths. 

58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Vienna, Austria, 9 – 17 March

Harm reduction policies are crucial to tackling viral hepatitis among people who inject drugs (PWIDs). Adoption of such policies can reduce hepatitis C acquisition risk among PWIDs by 75-80%. Ensuring policies that address hepatitis are being implemented is vital to reducing infection among this group so in March we attended the CND to emphasise this. During the plenary sessions and side events we attended, we stressed the importance of including viral hepatitis in harm reduction strategies, worked with civil society actors to ensure hepatitis was included in the civil society statement, urging organisations to promote viral hepatitis harm reduction, and made an intervention to remind member states of their commitment to the WHA67.6 resolution. The event was an opportunity for us to raise the profile of WHA within this field and develop our relationship with harm reduction partners.

HIV co-infection with viral hepatitis: implications for screening and treatment in Asia, Singapore, 28 February – 2 March

Attended by representatives from WHO WPRO Regional Office, CEVHAP, the World Bank and leading professors, the meeting on HIV co-infection with viral hepatitis provided an opportunity for key figures in the hepatitis community to discuss approaches to overcoming barriers to access and to consider ways to inspire further international and local action. WHA opened the meeting and asked delegates to consider the issue of co-infection as a potential ‘pathfinder’ for the issue of mono-infection.