On Thursday, 26th September 2019, TB HIV Care was approved as a non-voting member of the World Hepatitis Alliance.
This is part of TB HIV Care’s strategy to broaden its focus to include other major diseases, and viral hepatitis in particular. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis B and C cause about 1.3 million deaths per year globally, just less than the 1,6 million caused by TB. However, over 80% of people living with hepatitis lack access to prevention, testing and treatment services.
The World Hepatitis Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation that works with governments, national member organisations and other key partners to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and influence global change. By becoming a member, TB HIV Care raises its international visibility (the World Hepatitis Alliance has an ‘Official Relations’ status with the WHO and ‘Special Consultative Status’ with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.), as well as obtaining access to opportunities to network, attend conferences and capacity-building events and receive support for fundraising and policy work.
TB HIV Care has already begun to contribute towards viral hepatitis work in South Africa. From 2015 to 2018, TB HIV Care led a seven city study (in collaboration with the NCID, UCT, Anova Health Institute, OUT Well-being and funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation) to assess the prevalence of viral hepatitis among sex workers, people who use drugs and men who have sex with men, as well as evaluate the feasibility of various diagnostic options.
The World Hepatitis Day Provincial Events (Durban, Cape Town, East London, Polokwane and Pretoria) concluded on Tuesday, 14 August 2018. TB HIV Care hosted the final event, in collaboration with the NDOH, at the NDOH’s Impilo Boardroom in the Civitas building, Pretoria.
The event included:
- A talk, ‘Secure the Future’, from Ms Phangisile Mtshali Manciya of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation (who funded the viral hepatitis study among key populations)
- An overview of hepatitis B and C from Dr Sarah Stacey (Charlotte Maxeke Hospital)
- The World Health Organization’s vision of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030 (presented by Dr Brian Chirombo)
- SANAC’s support for hepatitis services (by Dr Nevilene Slingers)
- Findings from the viral hepatitis initiative among key populations in South Africa (Andrew Scheibe and Katherine Young)
- Performance of HCV point of care and dry blood testing and HCV genotypes (the NICD’s Dr Nishi Prabdial Sing)
- Hepatitis treatment from the providers’ perspective (a video submission from Prof. Wendy Spearman and Dr Mark Sonderup)
- A discussion around the way forward with Dr Kgomotso Vilakazi Nhlapo (NDOH) and Andrew Scheibe (TB HIV Care’s Technical Advisor)
Once again, a highlight of the programme was a panel discussion with people affected by hepatitis. Connie van Staden, from the South African Network for People Using Drugs (SANPUD), facilitated the discussion.
The day was a great success (with well over 100 delegates) and we have had fantastic feedback from the NDOH, presenters and delegates alike. Many thanks to Andrew Scheibe, Katherine Young and the entire TB HIV Care team for making it happen!
Bhekisisa (Mail & Guardian) covered the event, and you can read the full article here.