In April 2009 a group of leading European scientists, professors, public health experts and patient advocates created the Hepatitis B and C Summit Conferences Association (“the Association”) as a not-for-profit association based in Luxembourg. They aimed to bring together, for the first time, the major stakeholders in the field of viral hepatitis B and C in Europe in a summit conference which would analyze new and existing information and engage in targeted discussion in a manner to enable European policy makers and other stakeholders to devise public policies in response to the epidemic of viral hepatitis B and C in Europe.
Further information about the Association’s aims, organization and activity can be found on its website www.hepbcppa.org.
During 2009 the Association prepared for a summit conference on hepatitis B and C in Europe to be held in 2010, based on its unique approach of gathering together and working in partnership with major stakeholders in the field of hepatitis B and C including regulators, patients, clinicians, public health and civil society communities and the private sector.
The non-financial collaborative partnerships established for the 2010 Conference have continued to support the Association’s activities since then. The Association has strong working partnerships with: the World Health Organization – Regional Office for Europe (WHO-Europe), the European Commission’s agency European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA), the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB), the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMDCCA),
The Association’s unique role is to provide a continuous forum which brings stakeholders together, and to identify gaps in policies on hepatitis B and C and help address them. In this way the Association’s activity complements and does not compete with the work of any individual stakeholders.
Since 2009 the Association’s second line of approach has been to align its activities with the broad programs of the major international public health institutions, including the World Health Organization and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO).
Summit conference: Hepatitis B and C in Europe
In October 2010 the Association held a conference on ‘Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in Europe’ in Brussels, under auspices of Belgian EU Presidency.
The high-level event presented scientific data and other evidence to a broad range of invited stakeholders and urged the formulation of a European-wide strategy on the communication, prevention and management of viral hepatitis as a healthcare priority.
The Conference’s programme increased the stock of existing knowledge on hepatitis B and hepatitis C, providing a necessary first step for policy makers and other stakeholders to respond to the epidemic of these diseases in an evidence-based way.
The event’s financial sponsors were Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Janssen.
More information on its aims, agenda and presentations can be found on the Association’s website www.hepbcppa.org.
New reports commissioned by the Association and presented at the Conference were:
- Report: A Survey on Patient Self-Help on Hepatitis B and C
written by the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA)
- Report: Migration and Hepatitis B and C
written by the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development.
The Conference also launched a
- Call to Action
which urged the EU Member States and the European Commission to work to:
- Improve awareness of the threat posed by hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- Integrate prevention programmes for hepatitis B and hepatitis C into existing public health frameworks
- Enhance surveillance for hepatitis B and hepatitis C across Europe
Support the development and integration of cost-effective technologies and procedures for use in viral hepatitis prevention, control and management, including screening of high risk individuals according to scientific and epidemiological based evidence
- Ensure universal access to early counseling and treatment for persons infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- Expand research resources for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
The full text of these 3 documents can be read on the Association’s website: www.hepbcppa.org.
Change of name
In June 2011 the Association’s name was changed to Hepatitis B and C Public Policy Association to reflect the broader, continuing activities of the Association.
Report: Journal of Viral Hepatitis
The JVH published an independent supplement devoted to the presentations, discussions and conclusions of the 2010 Brussels Conference. Its full text is freely available via www.hepbcppa.org.
Working Group: Global Hepatitis Partnership
The formation of a Global Hepatitis Partnership was the in-principle agreement reached at an informal, high level meeting convened by the Association in London; it was supported there by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (Geneva) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as by the Association.
Slide deck: Overview of policies for prevention, care and treatment of hepatitis B and C
This extensive slide deck was created to present the latest data and analyses, including material presented at the 2010 Conference. They are posted on the Association’s website, freely available for all to consult and download, and will be updated regularly.
Also in 2011 the Association agreed to hold an international summit conference in 2012, and to produce a regular newsletter to cover clinical, epidemiological and policy issues in the field of hepatitis B and C.
Conference: Hepatitis B and C in Mediterranean and Balkan countries
The Association hosted a conference on ‘Hepatitis B and C in Mediterranean and Balkan countries’ in December 2012 in Nicosia, under the auspices of the Cyprus EU Presidency.
Representation on the event’s Advisory Board was: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB), World Health Organization – European Region (WHO-Europe) and European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), together with the Association.
The Cyprus Conference addressed the urgent need to prevent, diagnose and treat viral hepatitis B and C in Mediterranean and Balkan countries where the burden of these diseases is great. It presented new and existing data and permitted targeted discussion among the major stakeholders of this large region with the specific objective of promoting common strategies on their prevention and management.
Participating countries were: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, FYROM, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, UK and US.
The event’s financial sponsors were Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, MSD and Janssen.
Call to Action
The Cyprus Conference launched a Call to Action which urged:
1. Involve all sectors of society in the fight against hepatitis B and C
2. Place the fight against hepatitis B and C within a Right to Health framework
3. Actively participate in World Hepatitis Day
4. Improve awareness of the health and economic impact of hepatitis B and C
5. Strengthen surveillance of hepatitis B and C
6. Build inter-country research capacities dedicated to hepatitis B and C
7. Make prevention and control of hepatitis B and C a key part of public health action
8. Invest in better case detection and treatment programmes in primary health care
9. Develop outreach programmes to ensure more voluntary counselling and testing
10. Explore innovative ways of reaching all vulnerable groups, including migrants
11. Ensure universal access to treatment
12. Create community-based programmes to support people living with viral hepatitis.
Its full text is available, in 15 languages of the participating countries, on www.hepsummit2012 and is also carried on the websites of WHO-Europe, EASL, ELPA and VHPB.
National activity rolling out the Call to Action of 2010 conference:
The Association partnered with the Hellenic Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology & Medical Statistics of Athens University Medical School to present a successful half-day conference on ‘Hepatitis B and C: An underestimated scourge’ in Athens in March 2012.
The journal Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology published an article on ‘Public health issues of hepatitis C virus infection’ written by Angelos Hatzakis and George Papatheodoridis, where the authors were credited as members of the Association.
The Association’s Newsletter published 3 issues in 2012, to 3,000+ contacts. Editor-in-Chief is Prof. Massimo Colombo (past editor-in-chief of EASL’s Journal of Hepatology).
All back issues can be read via the Association’s website on www.hepbcppa.org.
Communicating the messages of Calls to Action of 2010 and 2012
During 2013 the Association worked to spread the message of the Call to Action launched at its conference on ‘Hepatitis B and C in Mediterranean and Balkan countries’ in December 2012.
It communicated the messages of this Conference by:
- In February an initial 10-page report on the Conference was was commissioned and widely disseminated by the Association’s Newsletter and by its free availability on the Association’s website and on the websites of other associations including World Health Organisation-Europe, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board, and World Hepatitis Alliance.
- Translation of the Call to Action into the 16 languages of the Conference’s target countries. Publication of a fuller, more scientific report of this event was published in an independent supplement of the Journal of Viral Hepatitis in July 2013.
The Association built on the messages of the Cyprus Conference at national levels:
The Association partnered with the Hellenic Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in organizing a successful half-day conference in early 2013 on ‘Viral hepatitis B & C and health policies in Greece’.
The Association was a non-financial sponsor of a hepatitis awareness event organized by the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) and the Hellenic Liver Patient Association ‘Prometheus’ in Athens on June 20th, 2013.
The Association sponsored a symposium hosted jointly by AISF (Associazione Italiana Studio del Fegato – Italian national branch of EASL) and SIMG (Societa Italiana dei Medici Generalisti – Italian Association of Family Physicians) which launched the new national Italian recommendations for the integrated management (between family physicians and hepatologists) of patients with HCV. These recommendations were drawn up according to EASL guidelines, as adapted to the national Italian situation.
Policy Development in Europe
Prof. Angelos Hatzakis, Association co-chair, participated in an expert meeting held by ECDC in Glasgow on estimating cost effectiveness for screening strategies for HBV and HCV.
Prof. Hatzakis participated as a member of the new EU Hepframe Taskforce in a meeting held by ECDC in Stockholm.
Prof. Hatzakis joined the World Health Organisation’s new Global Hepatitis Network National Planning Working Group as a representative of the Association.
Prof. Hatzakis spoke at a meeting held by the Correlation Network in Bucharest which discussed activities, information sharing and synergy between different actors in the field of HCV.
Prof. Spilios Manolakopoulos represented the Association at the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board’s meeting on screening and treatment of HCV in Croatia. The Association was asked to summarise findings presented at the Cyprus conference on Mediterranean and Balkan countries focussing on prevention and treatment of HCV.
Report: Journal of Viral Hepatitis
The JVH published an independent supplement devoted to the presentations, discussions and conclusions of the Association’s 2012 Cyprus Conference in June 2013.
Slide deck: An update of policies for prevention, care and treatment of hepatitis B and C
This slide deck continues to provide an important compilation of current policies and will include data, recommendations and conclusions from the Cyprus Conference. It is widely disseminated through the Association’s Newsletter and other means, and remains freely available for downloading from the Association’s website.
The Newsletter published 4 issues in 2013.
A professional editor was engaged to support the Newsletter’s Editor-in-Chief, and an international Editorial Board (currently covering Argentina, Australia, Russia and Singapore. It enables the Newsletter to cover issues affecting hepatitis B and C globally.
Working Group Report: Barriers to care and treatment for patients with chronic viral hepatitis in Europe: A systematic review and evaluation
The Association’s working group is collecting data and perceptions on the barriers to appropriate management for patients with chronic viral hepatitis in European countries.
It will report in July-September 2013 and will publish its findings in a scientific journal.
Preparing for conferences in 2014
Preparation began for major activities in 2014.
High Level Meeting ‘Economic Crisis and Healthcare’, Athens
The Association organised and hosted a high-level international meeting on the subject of ‘Economic crisis and healthcare – assuring access to public health services: the case of hepatitis B and C’ on 3-4 June 2014 in Athens under the auspices of the Greek EU Presidency and the Greek Ministries of Health and of Foreign Affairs.
The event was financially sponsored by AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Hellas and Gilead Sciences Europe. Non-financial endorsers were: Correlation Network, EASL/European Association for the Study of the Liver, ECDC/European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ELPA/European Liver Patients Association, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, International Centre for Migration, Health and Development, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board, World Hepatitis Alliance.
The Call for Action launched at that meeting as well its programme and speakers can be found on its web site www.hepsummit2012.org and also on the Association’s website www.hepbcppa.org.
A 10-page summary report of the Athens High Level Meeting was sent to the event’s sponsors, endorsers and speakers and was published in the Association’s Newsletter. It is available on HepBCPPA’s website www.hepbcppa.org.
A full report of the meeting was written during 2014 and will be published in a scientific journal in 2015.
The work of the Association’s Working Group on Barriers to Care and Treatment was published as a systematic review in Liver International (Volume 34, Issue 10) and has been freely available on http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/liv.12565/pdf.
Lead investigators were George Papatheodoridis and Heiner Wedemeyer.
Their work and its publication were commissioned and funded by the Association, and received non-financial support from EASL and ELPA.
The Association’s Newsletter published 5 issues in 2014, to 3,500 active names.
Booth at EASL Congress
In April 2014 the Association had a booth at the EASL Congress in London (it was generously offered by EASL free of charge). The booth received the most “Poken hits” of all booths at the Congress, and found new names for the Newsletter there.
The Association continued its work in the discussion and elaboration of national- and international-level policies on hepatitis B and hepatitis C through the participation of its directors and members in high-level meetings and conferences. This included the participation of Co-Chair Angelos Hatzakis, in almost every case as a chair, speaker or panel chair, in:
- WHO Global Partners’ Meeting on Viral Hepatitis, Geneva 27 March, 2014
- ‘The fate of viral hepatitis associated diseases’ – Symposium organized by the German Liver Foundation during EASL, London 11 April, 2014
- ‘2nd Pan-hellenic Meeting on AIDS and Hepatitis’, Athens 19-21 September, 2014
- ‘Optimal management of Hepatitis B virus infection’ – EASL Special Conference, Athens 26 September, 2014
- HepHIV 2014 Conference on ‘HIV and Viral Hepatitis: Challenges of Timely Testing and Care’, Barcelona 5-7 October, 2014
- 5th Southeast European Conference on Chemotherapy and Infection (SEEC), Bled Slovenia, October 16-18, 2014
- European Conference on Hepatitis C and Drug Use – Hepatitis C European Initiative/Correlation European Network, Berlin, 23-24 October, 2014
as well as at the Association’s Athens High Level Meeting in June 2014.