Collective Impact: Eliminating Hepatitis C Together
No one person, and no one organization, has the ability to make change on the scale that is needed with hep C. No one article, study, public health effort, groups or non-profits, or even the WHO has the singular ability to assure that people are tested in the numbers we need to see if we are committed to seeing the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030. Even with a cure that has the ability to stop hep C in its tracks, we will need all hands-on deck. We need a collective impact.
The importance of testing - and treatment!
This applies to us all, and when I say that it means as many of us who are able to step up and do what we can to slow new cases, test more people, and link people to the care that provides for treatment access with no barriers. One barrier that looms as huge is of course the testing piece. We can see now, in the era of COVID, just how widespread testing needs to be if we have a chance to eliminate this most recent threat to our collective health.
Testing alone does not cure anything, but it is an important step towards care. We do have a care pathway with hep C, at least we have a treatment that will eradicate the virus, when used. People who test positive need to be linked to the care, because the best cure in the world is no use if not available to those who need it.
Hepatitis C programs worldwide
There are some examples of places doing a great job with elimination, with some approaches being what is called "micro-elimination", which typically targets a geographical area and a specific group of people. These projects/actions are normally not massive things, but hep C is often not well-served in smaller communities that don’t need grand efforts. When countries develop strategies that mobilize on a big scale, there can be success and it is proven now in a few nations, but unfortunately not nearly enough so far.
There is plenty of room for variations on a theme, and no singular approach or set of actions will work universally well. Ultimately, if we take a collective approach to eliminating hep C, we can achieve the kind of impact we want, and that is my hope and the hope of many others around the globe or in your own neighborhood, backyard, the next state or province, county, or country. Getting involved and engaged is my best advice if you too share in the dream of elimination, because we can, with our collective impact, make a real difference! If collective impact sounds interesting, I suggest doing some reading on the approach; It is as close as your Google search allows!