ELPA members had participated in various lectures, workshops and symposia at the International Liver Congress (ILCTM ) during the 51st annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), held in Barcelona 13th – 17th April 2016.
Like every year since its foundation in 2005, the European Liver Patients' Association (ELPA) had a promotional booth in the exhibition area, organized a symposium entitled “ New Hepatitis C antivirals: Is universal access still a dream?”, held the Annual general meeting, the Board meeting and a ELPA training day.
On April 14th Echosens donated ELPA with FibroScan® 530 Compact at its booth. This mobile device is intended to be used for non-profit liver screening campaigns throughout Europe.
ELPA president was honoured to address more than 10.000 congress participants at the Opening session and stressed:
…the fight for political recognition of viral hepatitis and the huge opportunity to eliminate it is not yet won. The European Commission struggles internally to adopt an EU Policy Framework on HIV, Hepatitis and TB, which has been envisaged for quite some time now, but where little progress appears to be made.
To me, it is clear that the European Commission needs our help. We need to demonstrate consensus on what is needed to eliminate Hepatitis at European, national and local level.
Policymakers, public health experts, healthcare professionals and patients need to come together to look at primary and secondary prevention, access and prevention of re-infection, and to develop strategies on how to best approach the different risk groups.
As for the global level, let me reiterate what I said at the Hepatitis C Policy Summit in Brussels in February. We need a UN Declaration on Hepatitis. The fact that there are currently discussions on updating the Dublin Declaration on HIV should makes us think – why not include Hepatitis, as well as TB? Each of these diseases should be included in their own right in an updated Dublin Declaration.
Generally, the future is in exploiting synergies wherever possible.
We need to be clever and also investigate how we can exploit synergies between prevention, diagnosis, and management of other diseases to optimize health systems outcomes.
Chronic diseases, including chronic liver diseases, are diagnosed far too late, and primary care is underutilised for both prevention and diagnosis. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – NASH - is a case in point here. The problem is that primary care professionals frequently do not have the tight tools available. Health check ups frequently do not include liver enzyme tests, and healthcare professionals are usually not rewarded for an early and correct diagnosis – in fact, just the contrary.
Let me conclude: A lot has been achieved in terms of therapy, but a lot more needs to be done to reduce the burden of liver disease. Let’s ensure that we, as the European liver community, have the right arguments in place to convince policymakers and stakeholders that we can win this fight- Hepatitis elimination is the first big opportunity to seize on the way.