Principle three: Enable others
You enable other medical professionals to play their role in eliminating viral hepatitis.
You support medical professionals – at all levels – to help them understand the role they can play in combating viral hepatitis.
Medical professionals are the gatekeepers to the elimination of viral hepatitis and as such have a powerful role to play in achieving its elimination. This includes everyone from specialists already working in the field of hepatitis through to the wider healthcare community such as staff working in sexual health or community outreach centres. Ensuring all medical professionals are aware of the actions they can take – no matter how big or small – is key to unlocking their potential.
Those working in the field of viral hepatitis (e.g., hepatologists, gastroenterologists, infectious disease specialists and specialist nurses) have a responsibility to deliver optimal treatment strategies to all patients.
Members of the wider healthcare community can also help in different ways:
- Everyone can practice injection safety
- Midwives can promote and administer hepatitis B birth dose vaccinations
- Nurses and outreach workers can promote awareness and testing services in the local community
- Social and drug and alcohol workers can promote testing and initiate or improve needle exchange programmes and alcohol reduction/cessation interventions
- Sexual health staff can promote safe behaviours and testing, utilising their connections with at-risk groups
- Medical staff in prisons should be aware of high rates of viral hepatitis and encourage testing and treatment
- Laboratory staff can ensure blood safety procedures are implemented
Beyond these direct interventions, healthcare professionals can use their influential positions to help promote change:
- Education – e.g., providing training to colleagues or sharing resources with patients
- Advocacy – e.g., sharing a #NOhep tweet to help spread the message
- Funding – e.g., engaging with and influencing decision makers
- Political will – e.g., building alliances and communicating viewpoints
- Anti-stigma and discrimination – e.g., initiating local campaigns
Here are four quick tips to get you started:
- Write a letter or email to medical professionals in your local network detailing what actions you are taking towards eliminating viral hepatitis and invite them to join you and/or play their own role.
- Be aware of drug diversion as a threat to injection safety and report any suspected cases.
- Be innovative – why not involve medical students through coursework or workshops to design new or improved services and campaigns.
- Send a weekly #NOhep tweet highlighting different roles medical professionals can play to eliminate viral hepatitis
Alex Thompson, MBBS, PhD – Nurse-led models of care for hepatitis C in prisons – collaborating towards elimination
Dr Su Wang
Recognising that first point of care settings like Emergency Departments offer key opportunities to increase screening, Su Wang and her colleagues at Saint Barnabas Liver Center, New Jersey, USA initiated a programme to utilise the electronic health record system and create an automated process to link “at risk” groups with hepatitis C and hepatitis B tests.Read the full case study
Medical professionals role in developing patient groups
Developing more patient groups means increased pressure for improvements in viral hepatitis. Medical professionals have access to people living with hepatitis and are able to ask them if they are interested in advocacy for hepatitis and setting up a patient group.
Other resources to help
- Share copies of relevant guidelines within your practice and local network, whether national or local guidelines, or WHO hepatitis B and hepatitis C guidelines.
- Refer to the call-to-action initiative to simplify hepatitis C testing and treatment which was launched by AASLD, ALEH, APASL, EASL and CHAI in November 2019.