WHO highlights hepatitis testing innovations at The International Liver Congress

Joint news release: WHO | EASL, The International Liver Congress™

14 April 2016, Barcelona, Spain – Innovative hepatitis testing projects from 5 countries will be commended by the World Health Organization (WHO) at an award ceremony and symposium about hepatitis testing on Sunday morning, 17 April 2016, at The International Liver Congress™ (ILC) in Barcelona, Spain. The session will showcase the winning entries from 67 submissions and 27 countries, including new testing models for hepatitis in primary care, the community and prison settings. The winning entries come from Australia, India, Mongolia, the Netherlands and the United States of America (USA).

The competition, which was run by WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme and the Social Entrepreneurship for Sexual Health (SESH), in partnership with the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), sought to identify and celebrate innovative real-world examples of hepatitis B and C testing.

"Lack of access to testing and awareness of diagnosis is a major barrier to accessing treatment for hepatitis," said Philippa Easterbrook from WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme, who will chair the award session. "WHO will provide guidance on hepatitis testing for low- and middle-income countries this year, so the competition has been key in identifying a wide range of excellent examples of testing. These span a number of settings, from health care clinics to delivery in the community, all of which will help us to scale up hepatitis testing in the coming year."

"There is an urgent need to identify innovations to promote hepatitis B and C testing," said Joseph Tucker, Chair of the SESH group. SESH has organized several innovation contests to improve health, and has found such contests to be an effective way to identify good ideas in testing approaches.1

The winning entries to be presented at ILC include:

  • Hepatitis C virus testing linked to integrated routine primary care at 5 health centres in Philadelphia, using electronic medical record prompts and reflexive testing technology. The presenting representative will be Catelyn Coyle, National Nursing Centers Consortium, USA.
  • An established screening method for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and liver cancer through primary health care clinics in rural Mongolia called “FIRE”, which has been running since 2011. The presenting representative will be Meredith Potts, FIRE, Mongolia.
  • A community network in collaboration with local government, which established testing camps across 9 districts for over a month to mobilize hepatitis B and C testing among people who inject drugs and people living with HIV. The presenting representative will be Rajkumar Nalinikanta, Community Network for Empowerment, Manipur, India.
  • The use of a novel internet risk assessment tool, alongside an internet mediated hepatitis C testing process, in 2 regions in the Netherlands. The presenting representative will be Janke Schinkel, Public Health Service of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Hepatitis C virus testing across 13 prisons in the state of Victoria, Australia, at prison entry or transfer, linked with de-centralized care and treatment by trained nurses. The presenting representative will be Alexander Thompson, Victorian State Government, Australia.

All entries were reviewed and independently scored by a global panel of 16 judges, which included representatives from community organizations, people living with hepatitis, physicians, public health experts and WHO officials. Submissions were rated using a 10-point scale on 4 criteria: description of testing model; level of innovation; evaluation of effectiveness and impact; and plans for sustainability. They were then ranked based on overall mean score.

The 5 winning projects will also be included in WHO’s 2016 hepatitis testing guidelines, which will be launched in July 2016.

"Although hepatitis is one of the most deadly diseases in the world, testing coverage is extremely low, with only approximately 5% of people living with the disease to have actually been tested and granted access to treatment," said Massimo Colombo, Professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Milan, Italy, who was one of the EASL specialists associated with the competition. "It is important to understand and share innovative testing approaches such as these, to encourage the prevalence of effective hepatitis testing in more countries around the world."

WHO contest steering committee

  • Isabelle Andrieux-Meyer (Médecins Sans Frontières, Switzerland)
  • Tasnim Azim (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh)
  • Philippa Easterbrook (WHO, Switzerland)
  • Carmen Figueroa (WHO, Switzerland)
  • Charles Gore (Hepatitis C Trust and World Hepatitis Alliance, United Kingdom)
  • Karyn Kaplan (Treatment Action Group, USA)
  • Giten Khwairakpam (TREAT Asia/amfAR, Thailand)
  • Kathrine Meyers (Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, USA)
  • Veronica Miller (Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, USA)
  • Antons Mozalevskis (WHO Regional Office for Europe, Denmark)
  • Michael Ninburg (Hepatitis Education Project, USA)
  • Ponsiano Ocama (Makerere University, Uganda)
  • Rosanna Peeling (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and International Diagnostics Centre, United Kingdom)
  • Razia Pendse (WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, India)
  • Gabriele Riedner (WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt)
  • Joseph Tucker (University of North Carolina, SESH, and the International Diagnostics Centre, China)
  • Nick Walsh (WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific)

Additional contest judges

  • Betty Apica, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Mulago Hospital, Uganda
  • Azumi Ishizaki, WHO
  • Kenneth Kabagambe, The National Organisation for People Living with Hepatitis B, Uganda
  • Medhi Karkouri, Association de Lutte Contre le Sida, Morocco
  • Othman Mellouk, ITPC Global
  • Patricia Velez, Guatemalan Liver Association

About The International Liver CongressTM

The annual International Liver Congress (ILC) is the biggest event in the calendar for the European Association for the Study of the Liver. It attracts scientific and medical experts from around the world to learn about the latest in liver research. Attending specialists present, share, debate and conclude on the latest science and research in hepatology, working to enhance the treatment and management of liver disease in clinical practice. This year, the congress is expected to attract approximately 10 000 delegates from all over the globe. The ILC takes place on 13–17 April 2016 at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain.

About EASL

Since its foundation in 1966, the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) has grown to more than 4000 members from all over the world, including many of the leading hepatologists in Europe and beyond. This not-for-profit organization is the leading liver association in Europe, having evolved into a major European association with international influence. EASL has an impressive track record promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and advocating for change in European liver policy.

1: Tang W, Han L, Best J et al. Crowdsourcing HIV testing: a pragmatic, non-inferiority randomized controlled trial in China. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2016. In Press.


For more information, please contact the ILC Press Office at:
Email: ILCpressoffice@ruderfinn.co.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)7841 009 252

Onsite location reference

General session 3 and awards, Hall 8.0-C1
Sunday 17 April, 08:30–10:00
Presenter: Philippa Easterbrook, Switzerland