2022 ACHIEVE Co-Chair
This is ACHIEVE’s Stories to inspire – a collection of good practices to fight viral hepatitis B and C. The first set of stories was published in December 2019, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit first the general news, and then our lives in a totally unprecedented way.
The focus on the fight against the pandemic unfortunately took away resources, public and private, frequently making the difficult lives of vulnerable populations, including those chronically ill, even more difficult. People with viral hepatitis B and C were no exception. Programmes to find those with the viruses, as well as linking them to care and cure were frequently put on hold – awareness-raising initiatives to educate on the disease, how to prevent, diagnose and treat it, targeted towards at-risk groups and the public at large, often stopped.
As a result, progress to reach the WHO’s 2030 viral hepatitis elimination goal was put in jeopardy. It is now time to turn the tide and defeat the virus once and for all.
The signs are encouraging: in June 2022, the World Health Assembly confirmed the 2030 timeline, this way highlighting that elimination by then is still feasible.
ACHIEVE has hence decided to update its Stories to Inspire. Besides those received in 2019, this edition includes additional stories we received from across Europe as well as Africa, Asia and Australia, following a call for submissions in early 2022. They tell the tale of inspirational projects to fight the virus and improve the lives of patients, run by committed health professionals or led by community and peers, often with little funding. They also tell of wise decisions taken at health system level, national or regional.
Dear reader, no matter who you are and where you sit and what you do: may you be inspired by them to act, as policymaker, budget holder, healthcare professional, educator, or volunteer.
ACHIEVE would like to express their sincere thanks to all our contributors for having taken the time out of their busy and important work to share their insights with us. They are truly invaluable and inspirational.
Each of these Stories show that progress in the elimination of viral hepatitis B and C can be achieved – for the benefit of those infected, for their families and friends, for our health systems and for our societies at large.
We hope that these Stories will be replicated, so good practice becomes the rule rather the exception, sooner rather than later. If we all work together, elimination can be achieved by 2030 in line with the WHO’s stated objective.
The EU can make an important contribution in this regard – through the EU4Health public health funding programme, through the initiatives in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan aimed at cancer prevention, by highlighting health inequalities. Furthermore, a structured dialogue between all Member States, facilitated by the European Commission, can improve the dissemination of good practice in fighting all important chronic diseases, be they non-communicable or communicable.
Outside of the bloc, the EU can help eliminate viral hepatitis as well, through its new Global Health Strategy, as well as through support to its neighbours and less developed countries with a high burden of the disease.
Let us all work together to make viral hepatitis history.