AHC Steering Committee surveys members, holds Strategic Planning Session in Toronto: Revitalized mission and focused plan for 2019
November 30, 2018
Since reorganizing in 2014, AHC has grown significantly and the hepatitis C environment has changed dramatically. In 2015 we hired a researcher/policy writer and developed 4 key asks in the form of position papers, on areas we deemed priorities for removing barriers to treatment and care for those living with hepatitis C in Canada:
Three asks at the federal level:
These 4 asks determined our work plans for the last three years, keeping our advocacy focused on these priorities. While these asks may not have always seemed connected with your daily 1:1 work with your clients, our goal has been to impact the system in a way that would ultimately make Hep C treatment and care more accessible for those affected.
Through the persistent work of the AHC and our many allies, many of these asks have been accomplished:
With so many fantastic wins in hepatitis C advocacy in the last 2 years especially, this is an important time to re-evaluate our priorities and our strategic asks.
The AHC Steering Committee undertook an Impact Assessment/Strategic Planning process this fall. One of our greatest strengths is our membership, so the first step was to survey/interview members to learn what value AHC brings to their work, how they like to be engaged, and where their Hep C advocacy priorities lie.
We heard back that our members like to receive the member updates and participate in campaigns like petitions and postcard mailings, and we learned that many of our members like us advocating to the government on behalf of their organizations and clients. We also heard that testing remains a very big gap - access to testing is still a big barrier to finding those infected and offering them treatment.
The Steering Committee met in Toronto November 15-16 to determine whether there was still work for AHC to do as a national organization, and if so, how to best go about it. With the help of a very good facilitator, it was determined that yes, one of the things missing currently is accountability to Canada's international commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat in Canada by 2030. AHC can bring that community accountability through continued pressure on governments for implementation plans that include scaled up testing, treatment, and prevention strategies, and a 2020 report card on progress to date toward the targets set out by the WHO.
It was also determined that some slight shifts in governance will be needed as well, to tap into the strengths of our Steering Committee members more effectively. An interim Executive Committee was established to help guide the AHC through this process until our AGM and Steering Committee elections in early 2019.
There is a renewed energy around our updated mission and plans as a natural next step for AHC, and excitement for 2019 and beyond!
AHC participates in first NOhep Village at Global Hepatitis Summit in Toronto
June 17, 2018
Action Hepatitis Canada was pleased to be a participant in the inaugural NOhep Village at the Global Hepatitis Summit in Toronto, June 13-16, 2018.
Here are a few photos from the weekend. We want to recognize our members who participated and presented as well: Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN), CATIE, Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC), and Prisoner’s HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN).
PEI Becomes 1st Province in Canada to Commit to a Strategy to Eliminate Hepatitis
June 14, 2018
The PEI government has announced its commitment to expand their hepatitis C treatment program to an elimination program with enhanced access to curative medication, prevention, and follow-up care.
Prince Edward Island expects to effectively eliminate the presence of the virus within the province by 2025 (ahead of the World Health Organization’s target of 2030).
"Prince Edward Island continues to be a provincial leader in Canada, ensuring that its residents are diagnosed and linked to hepatitis C care and treatment," says Action Hepatitis Canada’s co-chair Gerard Yetman. "To see a province committing to elimination, and dedicating resources to developing a coordinated plan, is something we would like to see other provinces follow in the near future."
Read more here.
Finally! New Hepatitis C Testing Guideline Released.
June 6, 2018
On Monday, the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL) released updated Canadian Guidelines for hepatitis C, which include a recommendation for testing for those born between 1945-1975, in addition to the current risk-based screening recommendation.
Here is the CBC article about it.
Here are the actual guidelines in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
AHC and our many allies have been calling for age cohort-based testing since at least 2014, so this is great news. You can read a bit about our history on this policy issue here.
Treatment Access Update: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, and NIHB formularies all lift eligibility restrictions for hepatitis C treatment.
April 24, 2018
We are pleased to share that in addition to Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, which all announced updates to their formularies earlier this year (and PEI, who has had open access to hepatitis C treatment for a few years), all three prairie provinces plus Yukon Territory, and the federal NIHB formularies have all been updated this month as well, eliminating fibrosis restrictions on hepatitis C treatment.
This means that well over 90% of the population of Canada now has access to hepatitis C treatment, which is a huge win for hepatitis C advocates who have been working hard toward improved treatment access since 2014.
In many provinces, this update is not being widely publicized, so it is up to us to spread the word to clients and advocates throughout the community.
Treatment Access Update: Ontario lifts eligibility restrictions for hepatitis C treatment.
February 21, 2018
Action Hepatitis Canada is pleased to share some great news: Ontario has announced today that effective February 28, 2018, the fibrosis requirement for hepatitis C treatment will be removed!
Finally, diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C and genotyping is all that will be required in Ontario to access treatment, for those who haven't been treated previously.
This announcement comes almost one year since the pCPA negotiations which lowered hepatitis C treatment prices to the provinces and territories. At that time Ontario promised to open up treatment access within 12 months, and today's announcement makes them the first province to do so (other than PEI - they have their own Hep C Elimination Plan which includes open access to treatment).
This announcement is being sent to prescribers and pharmacies only, so it is up to us to help spread the word to our community members.
Full details on the updated formulary can be found here.
Meetings in Ottawa
December 20, 2017
The AHC has been busy in Ottawa over the last month, with several meetings:
On November 22nd, our Chair Patricia Bacon and Government Relations Consultant Christopher Holcroft attended five meetings on the Hill. In sum the meetings were encouraging and there are several follow-ups:
On December 6th, Steering Committee member Laurence Mersilian and Christopher Holcroft attended two more meetings:
If you would like AHC support in writing to or meeting with your MP on issues to do with hepatitis C, let us know!
Patricia Bacon presents on World Hepatitis Summit learnings at CATIE Forum
November 23, 2017
AHC Chair Patricia Bacon has represented us well today at the CATIE Forum in Toronto. Patricia shared learnings from the World Hepatitis Summit in Brazil earlier this month, that Canada can learn from to meet our 2030 WHO targets. We need to scale up diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
What We Can Learn from Other Countries?
Countries who are on track to meet their 2030 targets are doing these 3 things:
AHC in Brazil!
November 20, 2017
Action Hepatitis Canada is a proud member of the World Hepatitis Alliance, and we were pleased to attend the World Hepatitis Summit 2017 and hear the latest on what other countries are doing to reach their 2030 elimintion targets.
Sadly, it seems Canada is lagging behind. You can read Melisa Dickie's 4 top takeaways from the summit for Canada here on the CATIE blog.
AHC Prairie Regional Advocacy Meeting
October 25, 2017
Our Prairies Regional Hep C Advocacy Meeting in Saskatoon earlier this month was a great success! Twelve representatives from local clinics and organizations working in Hep C joined the members of the Steering Committee for 1.5 days of meetings.
Our Chair, Patricia Bacon, skillfully led the group through identifying key issues standing in the way of Canada meeting our goal of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030. We then developed solutions and came up with plans to implement, including immediate action items.
Some very concrete and promising ideas came out of our time together, and it will be exciting to work on these plans with our partners in the Prairies! The full summary notes can be downloaded here.
Our Steering Committee also held 1.5 days of face-to-face meetings in Saskatoon, where we were able to review our priorities and build out our 2018 Work Plan.
World Hepatitis Day 2017
July 28, 2017
On Friday, July 28th, Action Hepatitis Canada will join hundreds of organizations around the world in marking World Hepatitis Day.
By taking part in World Hepatitis Day, you can help amplify our call for federal leadership in the elimination of viral hepatitis in Canada.
There are a number of ways that you can support this campaign. Go to our toolkit for ideas.
MP Hep C Learning Event in Ottawa
May 18, 2017
Action Hepatitis Canada was pleased to host a Hep C Learning Event for MPs, sponsored by MP Michael McLeod, in the Parliamentary Restaurant. Most of the AHC Exec was in attendance, along with member organization representatives Karine L from Dopamine in Montreal, Janet R and Ecaterina D from CSIH, and Rob Boyd from Sandy Hill CHC Oasis Program.
MP McLeod shared some of his story of how he came to be a champion for Hep C awareness and testing, after going through the diagnosis and treatment process with a close family member. He noted that although his relative was cured, many of his friends were diagnosed too late, and that the federal government has an obligation to take leadership in raising awareness of the need for testing and eliminating this curable disease, particularly testing of the age cohort born between 1945-1975.
Dr. Curtis Cooper from the Ottawa Hospital and a CanHepC member, shared from his clinical perspective, and that while MP McLeod's story is an unfortunate one, it is not unique, that every day in clinics across the country, individuals are finding out that they are either not sick enough to qualify for treatment, or being diagnosed too late for treatment to be effective.
We also heard from Mike Bigelow, an individual who lives in Ottawa and bravely shared about his own experience of being diagnosed with hepatitis C and his struggle in the healthcare system to prove he was "worthy" of curing.
Patricia Bacon, chair of AHC, wrapped up, reminding the MPs that the Canadian government has made an international commitment to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030, and that part of that commitment included making a National Action Plan, yet Canada still does not have one and without a coordinated, resourced plan, this target will not be met.
All 4 speakers were very impactful and shared similar messages from their own perspectives:
Hepatitis C is preventable, it is curable, and we have made an international commitment to eliminate it as a public health threat by 2030. Despite great progress on the science side, policy-wise there are still barriers in getting the cure to those who need it. Federal leadership is needed to meet these international commitments and save thousands of Canadian lives.
As well as speakers, we had allowed time for MPs to receive advice on concerns that constituents are bringing to them about hepatitis C. We were able to have very good conversations with several MPs, including MP Sheri Benson from Saskatoon. MP Benson is very concerned about the hepatitis C rates in her province, and wants to be involved in our regional meeting when the AHC comes to Saskatoon this October. MP Saini of Kitchener was a pharmacist before going in to politics, and so he understood the benefits of early diagnosis and the important opportunity presented by these new drugs with their high efficacy and low side effects. MP Ken McDonald from St. John's, NL was very interested and engaged, and MP Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet of Montreal is very supportive of hepatitis C testing as well. MP Kamal Khera from Brampton West was there briefly and asked us to follow up with her to see how her office could lend support.
Thank you to the MPs who attended, who were open to learning, and to our speakers and members who attended and shared their stories.
Many thanks as well to the AHC members who reached out to their own MPs to follow up on our invitation. Requests from constituents carry so much more weight, and our power is in our network. Leveraging our local connections across the country is what will help our important message cut through the numerous requests government officials receive every day.
March 9, 2017
Action Hepatitis Canada was very active in Banff last week, making the most of the gathering of Canada's top hepatitis C experts for the 6th Canadian Symposium on HCV.
On Thursday, March 2, the AHC Steering Committee met for the first face-to-face meeting of the year, tackling big questions of priorities, remaining barriers, and where to best place our efforts for maximum impact on the issues of testing and diagnosis, pricing and access, monitoring and care, political engagement/messaging, upcoming opportunities, and our 2017 regional capacity building meeting in the prairies.
On Friday morning ahead of the Symposium, we hosted a number of physicians and nurses in a very productive breakfast meeting. We were able to share a little about who the AHC is and what we do, and receive valuable feedback from these treaters about what policy barriers interfere with their work, how the AHC can help them, and ways that they would be interested in collaborating with the AHC. The information gleened from this short time together was invaluable and we are very grateful to the treaters who made time to meet with us.
The Symposium provided lots of interesting perspectives in the research and policies around hepatitis C treatment and care and the goal of elimination. It also provided an opportunity for the AHC to meet new potential members, share some of our positions, and further our relationship with CanHepC. Our chair Patricia Bacon represented the AHC very well on a panel discussing the need for a national strategy, and we were able to distribute postcards and display a poster, in addition to our info booth.
All in all, a very full and productive 2 days of advocacy in Banff.
Pricing & Treatment Access +
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