WHA President, Michael Ninburg addresses hep-C community summit held before INHSU 2018

19 Sep 2018 Chris Wingrove

 

“Every country in the world has committed to the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030. But this is not going to happen without a comprehensive, holistic approach that involves the active engagement of the patient community. This must include people who use drugs”
Michael Ninburg, President of the WHA said in a video address at the start of Hep- C community summit held on the 18th September before INHSU 2018 (The International Symposium of Hepatitis Care in Substance Users).

“Let’s be very clear, when it comes to people who use drugs, this is about more than hepatitis, this is about human rights, self-determination and the health and wellbeing of a historically underserved and marginalised group of people.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) 2017 Global Hepatitis Report, highlighted the need for a significant increase in the availability of sterile needles and harm reduction services.

 

 

 

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People who inject drugs (PWID) are some of the most marginalised people in society, but to make the elimination of hepatitis a reality we need to ensure that no one is left behind, and that means working to eliminate hepatitis amongst the hardest to reach.

“We have great examples of sound drug and health policy around the world. Some of the best in Portugal. Sadly however, there are far more failed policy efforts that have resulted in criminalisation, stigma and the dehumanisation of people who inject drugs. More now than ever it is our duty to mobilise our communities and advocate for what is right.”

Z, a Hep Community Peer Outreach Worker for the Hepatitis Education Project in Seattle, USA, himself cured of hepatitis C, engages with PWIDs in the community.  
“I’ve met people who tell me they get sores from reusing needles. For no reason whatsoever should you have to use someone else’s needle, we make enough needles!”

Kenny, another volunteer with the Hepatitis Education project cured of hepatitis C, feels that more needs to be done to engage the community.  
A lot of people in the drug using community are becoming aware of treatments that don’t make you sick, but the biggest thing is to really engage with them, they just need to be shown that the treatment is safe and effective. And on the side of clinicians it’s about removing the stigma, to stigmatise drug users is to throw away a whole class of people and it’s not right.”    

Michael closed his address by reiterating the importance of community engagement
“Nothing about us without us, nobody knows what the community needs better than the community itself. We need to ensure that PWIDs are part of the solution.”  

Click here to visit the Find the Missing Millions campaign and find out about how you can get involved.