By Christopher Hoy
Canada is one of 194 countries that have signed on to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, committing to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. The wide availability of a cure for all Canadians, along with new tools to prevent and diagnose hepatitis C, mean that elimination is now possible for the first time.
This year, new research and examples from other countries have shown how we can approach an elimination strategy, and Canada has started to build momentum. Here are five approaches that we can adopt to make hepatitis C elimination a reality in Canada:
1. Canada’s leading hepatitis C experts just launched a blueprint to inform elimination efforts
The Canadian Network on Hepatitis C (CanHepC) has just released the Blueprint to Inform Hepatitis C Elimination Efforts in Canada. This is a menu of evidence-informed activities to help provinces and territories develop their own hepatitis C action plans. The Blueprint includes key targets and objectives for Canada, to guide action and track our progress. To learn more, read the Blueprint document or watch a recording of the launch event.
2. Micro-elimination is key to help Canada take our first steps to eliminating hepatitis C
Micro-elimination is a new concept that focuses on eliminating hepatitis C in individual populations, including in certain settings, geographic areas, demographics or age cohorts. This serves as a practical way to incrementally achieve national elimination. To find out more about micro-elimination and what this looks like in practice, see the CATIE article, “Micro-elimination of hepatitis C: A pathway to achieve national elimination goals”.
3. We have to strengthen testing, diagnosis and linkage to care
This year, the 2019 Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus explored new research and programs for testing, diagnosis and linkage to care. These activities are the crucial underpinnings to help reach elimination in Canada. To find out more about what was discussed, see our summary webinar: Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus: Implications for frontline workers.
4. People who use drugs are a key group to engage in elimination efforts
Last year, the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users conference (INHSU 2018) took place in Portugal. Injection drug use is the most common way a person acquires hepatitis C in Canada. However, people who use drugs experience barriers to accessing safe and appropriate health services. To find out more about gaps and opportunities for eliminating hepatitis C among people who use drugs around the world, watch our summary webinar: Eliminating hepatitis C among people who use drugs: The latest research and its implications for the front lines
5. Canada can learn lessons from the international stage for elimination
Last year, the Global Hepatitis Summit gathered researchers, healthcare and public health practitioners in Toronto from around the world, including many from countries that are on track for elimination. They tried to answer the question of what eliminating viral hepatitis means in practice. This CATIE Blog post looks at four lessons Canada can learn from our international partners: “What it will take to eliminate hepatitis C in Canada”.
Christopher Hoy is a knowledge specialist in hepatitis C community health programming at CATIE.