The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) recognises World Hepatitis Day and supports the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) commitment to eliminating chronic Hepatitis C virus as a public health threat by 2030.
World Hepatitis Day, 28th July, draws attention to the problem of viral hepatitis in society, ultimately prompting positive change for those living with the condition and limiting the virus’ impact.
In Australia, 36 percent of people living with Hepatitis C remain undiagnosed, and only 8 percent of those diagnosed are receiving treatment. Given this, PSA believes action must be taken to raise awareness of Hepatitis C in targeted populations.
PSA WA Branch President, Dr Fei Sim, acknowledged World Hepatitis Day and discussed how pharmacists can support the 2030 target.
“Hepatitis C infection is a major public health challenge for Australia, affecting about 200,000 people at-risk of liver failure and subsequent transplantation – and World Hepatitis Day shines light on this treatable condition.
“There are 9 years to go until the WHO’s 2030 deadline is reached, and although much progress has been made towards elimination, there are still gaps in awareness, screening and access to treatment.
“There are highly-effective, and well tolerated direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapies available to Australians. Adherence to DAAs and the accompanying treatment regimens is a crucial step towards the eradication of Hepatitis C.
“More than 70,000 Australians have accessed these curative DAA therapies, however, approximately two-thirds of the estimated population living with Hepatitis C are yet to be treated.
“Local pharmacists are well-placed to offer public health initiatives that support the early identification and treatment of Hepatitis C, as well as ongoing patient self-care.
“Australian pharmacists can make a significant contribution to the 2030 target by raising Hepatitis C awareness, facilitating screening, providing referrals to access the appropriate antiviral treatments (particularly in rural and remote Australia) through collaborative arrangements and the implementation of self-care programs.”
Dr Sim went on to discuss the progress that is being made in combatting Hepatitis C.
PSA’s WA Branch has partnered with Hepatitis WA and Curtin University on a project and campaign, ‘Hero Your Local Pharmacist’, which promotes the impactful role pharmacists can play in the elimination of the virus.
“In NSW, an initiative that supports the early identification of Hepatitis C and treatment with direct acting anti-viral agents is already in progress.” Dr Sim concluded.