ASHM International, in collaboration with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis and with the Doherty Institute has been undertaking essential and exciting work in the Pacific to help four countries move forward on their national agenda and response to viral hepatitis.  

The prevalence of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in Pacific Island Countries (PICs) is not fully determined in most due to lack of information. Estimates of hepatitis B show an overall high prevalence in many countries ranging from approximately 18% chronic hepatitis B prevalence in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga to about 10% in Kiribati and 1.8% in Fiji. There is limited data on hepatitis C in PICs. This project was developed in response to the need for a comprehensive and multi-sectoral action to address the emerging public health threat of viral hepatitis B and C in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

In line with requests from countries of the Pacific region, the WHO Division of Pacific Support have engaged ASHM International in collaboration with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis to review of National Strategic & Action Plans, revision of Testing & Treatment Guidelines, conduct of scoping missions to explore the challenges and opportunities for implementation of a comprehensive national response, and support the updating of essential medicines list with WHO-approved viral hepatitis drugs. 

The project scoping missions are systematically assessing the current environment for implementation of the national action plan for viral hepatitis and providing recommendations to inform the target countries responses, including advising on the laboratory, surveillance and clinical capacity building required to achieve full implementation of national strategy and targets.

As of July 2019, we have completed scoping missions in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Both missions were jam packed, covering a broad range of topics including health system structures & access to medicines, health financing, procurement system for medical products, essential medicine list processes, program management & governance processes, viral hepatitis awareness raising strategies, workforce development, current data use for policy & action, prevention of transmission policy and strategies, screening & diagnostic testing, clinical care & treatment and vaccination implementation. This is an ambitious project which hopefully paves the way for ASHM to provide future support for the Pacific to respond to viral hepatitis.

Our scoping missions to Kiribati and Fiji come up at the end of the July, and we look forward to sharing the results of this hard work in the near future.