Burnet partners with Egypt for hepatitis workshop

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Image: Collaborators from eight countries convened in Cairo to discuss viral hepatitis elimination initiatives

Burnet Institute has joined with Egyptian partners to deliver a three-day workshop to showcase and share lessons about hepatitis B and C elimination programs across Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Led by Ain Shams University, the National Research Centre Egypt, and Burnet hepatitis researchers, the Cairo workshop brought together colleagues from several countries to discuss efforts to eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the new era of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments.

Burnet Deputy Director (Programs), Professor Margaret Hellard AM, said the advent of DAA treatments has presented a once in a generation opportunity to eliminate HCV infection as a global public health threat.

“It’s very encouraging to see more countries in the region getting on board with elimination efforts,” Professor Hellard said.

“Both Egypt and Australia are committed to eliminating HCV and are among only a few countries embarking on this quest.”

Professor Hellard said Burnet’s leading role in this effort meant it could provide support and advice globally in HCV elimination.

“We’re supporting other countries to develop a coordinated approach to increasing access to effective diagnostics and treatments for all people infected with viral hepatitis, as well as evidence-based strategies for harm reduction and prevention,” she said.

Led by Ain Shams University’s Professor Dr. Manal El-Sayed, the National Research Centre in Egypt’s Professor Dr. Ammal Mokhtar Metwally and Burnet’s Professor Hellard and Dr Alisa Pedrana, the Promoting Viral Hepatitis Programs in the African and Eastern Mediterranean Region Workshop brought together colleagues from Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC-Congo, UK and Australia.

Discussion focused on global elimination responses and monitoring progress, understanding hepatitis epidemics, models of care and approaches to scale-up and policies, advocacy and health systems strengthening.

This program builds on an initiative delivered in 2017 hosted by Burnet, which brought together Egyptian, Chinese and Indonesian colleagues. It was identified that there was value in expanding this concept, and running a follow-up program for the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Burnet partnered with the Egyptian National Committee for Control of Viral Hepatitis, the National Research Centre in Egypt and the COLDA Conference Organising Committee to deliver the workshop.

HCV is a major problem globally affecting approximately 70 million people. Around 500,000 people die each year from HCV-related liver diseases. DAA treatments mean HCV is now curable, making its elimination as a global public health threat a real possibility.

This initiative was made possible with support by the Australian Government through their Direct Aid Program, and collaboration with Ain Shams University, Cairo and the National Research Centre in Egypt.

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