ELPA Stakeholders’ Meeting, organized on 2nd December 2020, was the occasion to gather with some representatives of the most prominent associations in the field of liver diseases and patients’ advocacy.
After a short introduction by ELPA President Marko Korenjak, the first speaker took the floor.
Dr. Nicole Seguy, Unit lead HIV, Hepatitis and STI, WHO Europe, gave an overview of the updates in the field of Hepatitis elimination, challenges, and responses in the WHO European Region. She described the regional targets, the cascade of cure for Viral Hepatitis C (HCV), and she stressed that WHO is striving to have better data. Therefore it would work on patients’ registries. She concluded by presenting the WHO guidance on maintaining essential health services in the COVID-19 context.
Dr. Seguy’s presentation was followed by that delivered by Greet Hendrickx, from the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board. After a short description of her association’s structure, Ms. Hendrickx presented the activities of the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board in 2020, stressing the fact that everything had been turned into virtual except some countries’ meetings that were impossible to organize virtually. She finished her presentation with the future planned activities in the upcoming year.
During his presentation, Eberhard Schatz, representative of the Correlation Network, stressed the importance of collaboration and partnership. After introducing the Correlation Network, he presented one of its significant activities related to good practice examples of Hepatitis C interventions and their related outcomes. He also dedicated some word to the Monitoring Report on Harm Reduction and the Briefing Paper on Harm Reduction response in the Europe region during the COVID-19 pandemic. He finished his presentation by giving an overview of his association’s advocacy goals for 2021.
Before the coffee break was the turn of Katharina Ossenberg from the ACHIEVE Coalition Secretariat. She listed all the ACHIEVE’s strands of action, such as the EU4Health funding program, advocacy on the EU Beating Cancer Plan, and advocacy on the EU health Data space. All of these fields represent both opportunities and challenges in 2021.
After the coffee break, the floor was taken by Jessica Hicks from the World Hepatitis Alliance. She presented the Alliance in detail. Then, she stressed three unifying themes related to Hepatitis elimination. She also suggested some ideas regarding the World hepatitis Day 2021, a new capacity building program, and the World Hepatitis Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, in late 2021. She concluded her presentation by stressing that one of the Alliance’s priorities is also addressing the lack of resources in the field of Hepatitis elimination.
Dr. Lina Nerlander from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) presented some updates on ECDC’s activities related to Hepatitis B and C. She gave insights regarding surveillance, monitoring, how to get better estimates of prevalence, new PWID guidance, country support and the work with civil society. She concluded by informing the audience of the expansion of the ECDC mandate by the European Commission and the opportunities that this represents.
Then, it was the turn of Stefan Gijssels, CEO of Digestive Cancers Europe (DiCE). After some data about Digestive Cancers in Europe, he presented the association’s future vision and opportunities and its strategic framework. He also gave an interesting explanation of what patients’ organizations do at the individual and collective levels.
A second session of the webinar was characterized by presentations delivered by some ELPA representatives.
Marko Korenjak, ELPA President, listed all the ELPA achievements in 2020, included ELPA’s involvement in 9 European medical research projects. Then, he sketched ELPA’s strategic focus in 2021 in the field of members’ empowerment, policy and advocacy activities, and building a more assertive European association.
After ELPA President’s presentation, Milan Mishkovikj, ELPA Director, explained to the audience the importance and power of social media in disseminating and communicating for patients’ organizations. According to him, social media give patients’ organizations visibility and, consequently, a stronger voice. He also stressed that this way of communicating was crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. After this introduction, Mr. Mishkovikj gave an example of an extremely successful ELPA campaign. He presented ELPA’s online engagement during the October Liver Cancer Awareness Month.
The meeting was wrapped up by Marko Korenjak, ELPA President, who warmly thanked all the participants for their engagement in the discussion.