The theme of the 2021 Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference was Progress towards hepatitis elimination targets: Taking stock and innovating for the future.  With that in mind, the hepatitis B team at ASHM took the opportunity to offer scholarships to community-based hepatitis B prescribers to attend the conference both online and in-person at the Brisbane and Sydney based hubs.

 

The feedback from scholarship recipients was overwhelmingly positive.  The scholarship recipients reported that the conference provided them with insight into the key barriers to achieving the elimination of hepatitis B. Two key barriers identified were the lack of a cure for hepatitis B and a lack of funding to support increased monitoring and testing. 

 

Scholarship recipients also reported on the importance of designing appropriate models of care: Effective models of care need to be: simple, targeted, multidisciplinary, scalable, integrated, patient-centred and affordable.

 

A key takeaway from all scholarship recipients was the important contribution of the primary care workforce in helping achieve elimination targets and the need for access to community based, localised care for people living with hepatitis B.

 

ASHM would like to thank the NSW Ministry of Health and QLD Health for funding the seven 2021 scholarship places.

 

We thank Dale Thompson, a Queensland based hepatitis B s100 prescriber and nurse practitioner for taking the time to provide a recap of his experience receiving a scholarship and attending the conference.

 

"It was a pleasure to be in person at the opening day of the VH2021 conference. There was a spotlight on ‘Progress towards hepatitis elimination targets: Taking stock and innovating for the future’The themes that resonated with me included work that is being done to address structural barriers and gaps across the Australian health system and were described by the Tasmanian Eliminate Hepatitis C Outreach Project.

 

My practice is within remote communities with vulnerable people who find navigating the health system difficult. In my earlier career as a Nurse Consultant I spent considerable amounts of time building rapport with people who felt unwelcome and confused by the health system, only to lose them between the clinical work up and keeping appointments with visiting specialists. I am so pleased to be a Nurse Practitioner! I experience immense satisfaction in being able to engage a person in care, undertake their assessment, prescribe and treat them and then assist their friends and family. The care I can provide is far less fragmented as a Nurse Practitioner, many barriers are now gone, however there are many more to remove.

 

As an accredited hepatitis B prescriber, I have witnessed a dramatic reduction in fragmented care by removing multiple service providers and providing more wholistic care in one place. Skilled clinicians working in the community that a person resides in removes the need for the person to travel to larger cities and increases the likelihood patients will feel safe and participate in their self-care. A recurrent conference theme was the difficulty people of diverse cultural backgrounds have in remaining engaged with clinicians and services who are inexperienced and whose cultural awareness is lacking. A thoroughly enjoyable conference, with many themes that resonated with me and invigorated my desire to improve my practice by implementing my learnings."