Find And The World Hepatitis Alliance Team Up To Amplify Advocacy For Hepatitis C Diagnosis

16 Apr 2019 Lucy Ferrier

• FIND and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) join forces to co-ordinate and strengthen advocacy and communications efforts for hepatitis C diagnostics through joint initiatives nationally, regionally and globally
• Memorandum of Understanding signed on the sidelines of the 2019 EASL International Liver Congress™

London, UK & Geneva, Switzerland – 16 April 2019 

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) announced today their collaboration to co-ordinate and strengthen advocacy and communication efforts for hepatitis C diagnostics, through joint initiatives nationally, regionally and globally. The commitment was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed on 11 April 2019 during the EASL International Liver Congress™, in Vienna, Austria.

Hepatitis C is one of the world’s most common infectious diseases, usually contracted through unsafe healthcare or injection drug use. Globally, more than 71 million people are chronically infected, over 80% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) – but only one in five people know they have the disease (1). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.3 million people with the virus are also coinfected with HIV.1 Around 400,000 people die every year, and the mortality rate is increasing, making it a global health priority: WHO has targeted viral hepatitis for elimination by 2030. (2,3)

In order to reach this ambitious goal, LMICs need to be able to expand and accelerate access to diagnostics. Key strategies include simplifying the diagnostic pathway, and establishing hepatitis C virus (HCV) diagnostic capacity within HIV programmes – in order to link people to care and translate the promise of new HCV therapies into action.

FIND’s work in this area is being conducted through the Hepatitis C Elimination through Access to Diagnostics (HEAD-Start) project, funded by Unitaid, to improve diagnosis of HCV. The project aims to make HCV diagnostics more affordable and more widely available to those in need, with a focus on serving people co-infected with HIV.

“WHA is an organization led and driven by patients, which greatly complements our product development and delivery focus,” said Zachary Katz, Chief Access Officer at FIND. “Joining our voices together to amplify the efforts of both organizations in the countries where we work will increase engagement with relevant stakeholders and ensure HCV diagnosis is on the agenda. These activities are critical to driving awareness so that those who don’t yet know their status can be linked to care.”

“Millions of people living with viral hepatitis remain undiagnosed; and we will not reach the elimination of this global killer without a dramatic increase in access to diagnostics and testing,” said Michael Ninburg, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance. “We are delighted to be collaborating with FIND, whose vast experience in the field is a perfect complement to our work to find the missing millions and link them to care.”

The two organizations will work through communication campaigns and advocacy activities, engaging multiple stakeholders with demand creation activities, as well as strengthening knowledge-building and coordination among community-based organizations. They will also share learnings with the wider global health community via academic publications and conferences.

The FIND Hepatitis C Elimination through Access to Diagnostics (HEAD-Start) project is funded by Unitaid. It builds on earlier work supported by the government of the Netherlands, and UK aid from the British people.


 

(1) World Health Organization. Global hepatitis report 2017. www.who.int/hepatitis/publications/global-hepatitis-report2017/en/ (accessed 11 April 2019)

(2) World Health Organization. Disease burden and mortality estimates, 2000–2015. http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/estimates/en/index1.html (accessed 11 April 2019)

(3) World Health Organization. Combating hepatitis B and C to reach elimination by 2030, May 2016. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/206453/WHO_HIV_2016.04_eng.pdf;jsessionid=0B0881916BBDF9EB2B47D4B004DB7969?sequence=1 (accessed 11 April 2019)

About the World Hepatitis Alliance

The World Hepatitis Alliance is an international umbrella organisation with over 270 members in 91 countries. Patient-led and patient-driven, WHA represents the 325 million people living with viral hepatitis worldwide. The Alliance strives to support and promote patient voices, to raise the profile of viral hepatitis and to establish comprehensive hepatitis strategies in all countries. Through better awareness, prevention, care, support and access to treatment, the ultimate goal is to work with governments to eliminate these diseases by 2030. For more information, please visit www.worldhepatitisalliance.org

About FIND

FIND is a global non-profit organization that drives innovation in the development and delivery of diagnostics to combat major diseases affecting the world's poorest populations. Our work bridges R&D to access, overcoming scientific barriers to technology development; generating evidence for regulators and policy-makers; addressing market failures; and enabling accelerated uptake and access to diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Since 2003, we have been instrumental in the development of 24 new diagnostic tools. Over 50 million FIND-supported products have been provided to 150 LMICs since the start of 2015. A WHO Collaborating Centre, we work with more than 200 academic, industry, governmental, and civil society partners worldwide, on over 70 active projects that cross six priority disease areas. FIND is committed to a future in which diagnostics underpin treatment decisions and provide the foundation for disease surveillance, control and prevention. For more information, please visit www.finddx.org

Media contacts

WHA: Chris Wingrove, Head of Communications
chris.wingrove@worldhepatitisalliance.org
M: +44 (0) 7809730902

FIND: Sarah-Jane Loveday, Head of Communications
T: +41 (0) 22 710 27 88
M: +41 (0) 79 431 62 44
media@finddx.org

PHOTOGRAPH

Memorandum of Understanding being signed by Michael Ninburg, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance (left), and Zachary Katz, Chief Access Officer at FIND.