cohealth welcomes the Commonwealth Government’s announcement to subsidise new generation hepatitis C medication. This announcement positions Australia to eliminate hepatitis C within a generation and comes just days after a cohealth initiated sector wide viral hepatitis forum. Among those who spoke at the forum were several people who are living with hepatitis C.
In light of the government’s announcement cohealth Chief Executive Lyn Morgain reflected on the frustrations of one client who told the forum that they had pleaded for cheaper treatment for hepatitis C to avoid the poor health it causes. “These people will now have the opportunity to be cured of hepatitis C” said Ms Morgain.
Hospitals, specialists and community health are already working in partnership to provide services to people living with hepatitis C. cohealth has supported this partnership through providing health care at a number of its sites to people who are living with hepatitis C. This partnership has ensured access to needle and syringe programs, medical screening and ongoing medical support for people living with, or at risk of, hepatitis C.
Research has shown that community health is more accessible than hospitals to affected communities. Ms Morgain further said, “it is critical that the Commonwealth and state and territory governments work with affected communities and the community health sector to develop a strategy to ensure that the new medications are accessible.” This strategy should also consider policy initiatives to address the prevalence of undiagnosed hepatitis C in our community which is estimated to be 15% of people who are living with the condition.
Ms Morgain said that curing Australia of hepatitis C was “not just about distributing medication. Rather, the Commonwealth health minister, together with state and territory health ministers should set targets around curing Australia of hepatitis C. This would include resourcing community health organisations to work with relevant sectors, specialists, advocacy and user groups to develop and implement a comprehensive prevention, screening and treatment approach”.