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Open letter to Health Minister Dr Jane Philpott

Cette pétition avait 135 signataires


Dear Minister Philpott,

In Canada, 250,000 people are living with hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis C infection causes slowly progressive liver disease but is usually entirely asymptomatic until the liver damage is very advanced. This isn’t trivial: hepatitis C infection is responsible for more years of lost life and illness in Canada than any other infectious disease, more than HIV, influenza or pneumonia.

The good news is that the development of safe and simple hepatitis C therapies with cure in >95% of people represent one of the greatest advances in clinical medicine in decades. There is a clear opportunity to reverse the rising burden of hepatitis-C related liver disease and achieve elimination of hepatitis C in Canada.

We applaud your commitment to the WHO 2030 targets for elimination of hepatitis B and C. We also applaud and recognize the effort led by the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) to negotiate improved pricing and access to DAAs in Canada to enable broad access to therapy. This will be a key component in achieving hepatitis C elimination in Canada.

But, we can’t pat ourselves on the back just yet. Despite this progress, the hepatitis C problem in Canada is far from over. The next step is to ensure “Access for all”, including hepatitis C prevention, care, and treatment. Many Canadians, especially in remote settings and people who are highly marginalized, do not have access to screening, care and treatment. These people are at risk of developing progressive liver disease and death due to hepatitis C infection.

Today, July 28th, is World Hepatitis Day. On this day, it is more important than ever to underscore the progress made so far, plan for the future, and ensure that Canada is a world leader in reaching the hepatitis C elimination targets.

We, scientists, practitioners, and knowledge users from the Canadian Hepatitis C Research Network (CanHepC) and beyond, are working relentlessly with communities, affected persons, clinicians and health policy makers to evaluate novel prevention, care, and treatment programs, and to develop innovative approaches and technologies to facilitate hepatitis C elimination efforts. We have convincingly demonstrated the need and value of prevention and treatment in curbing the hepatitis C infection and associated liver diseases in Canada. The time has now come to implement and scale-up what is known to be efficient and eliminate hepatitis C.

We would also like to applaud you and the Public Health Agency of Canada for your work in developing a framework for action towards the elimination of HIV, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections in Canada. We really appreciate the government’s efforts in this regard and support a syndemic approach to addressing the elimination of HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted infections in Canada and appreciate to have been invited to participate in some of these consultations. However, please do not forget that the epidemiology and key affected populations vary by each specific infection. As such, there will be specific strategies and actions focused on prevention, testing, and care that need to be tailored to each specific infection to achieve elimination.

The Canadian Hepatitis C Research Network is here to provide support to both you and the Public Health Agency of Canada as you further develop a framework for action and strategies to enhance HCV prevention, testing, and treatment to achieve the WHO hepatitis C elimination targets in Canada by 2030.

Sincerely

 

 



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