Advancing the Conversation on Hepatitis C
After Hepatitis C was discovered and identified as a liver disease in 1989, it quickly became apparent how significantly it impacted Canadians. Many were unaware they had the disease or that they had been living with it for years undiagnosed. There was a surge in the need for answers and information from everyone ranging from doctors and healthcare professionals to the general public.
For this reason, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) established a close partnership with Health Canada in 1999. The partnership was pivotal in providing Canadians living with, affected by, or at risk of contracting hepatitis C with support.
The progress made in the first year of this partnership was widespread in that it helped educate a diverse range of groups including the general public, hepatitis C patients, caregivers, and healthcare practitioners, just to name a few.
Thanks to Health Canada, a hepatitis C edition of the already popular Spreading the Word Speakers Kit was created. This was a comprehensive module that enabled staff and volunteers to educate key stakeholders about certain liver diseases and how they can be treated. This standalone kit was distributed to public health boards, street worker organizations and prisons.
To assist with the organization and promotion of education sessions and public forums, the CLF also developed a marketing strategy; this strategy included tips on a variety of topics including how to recruit speakers. The information found in Spreading the Word was soon after used as a model for a hepatitis C awareness program targeting street youth in Alberta.
Another great contribution from the CLF at the time was the national support line. This toll-free line provided patients, families and healthcare professionals with the opportunity to have their concerns and questions on hepatitis C answered in detail. Based on the type and frequency of questions received, the CLF went on to produce a detailed Hepatitis C Question and Answer Manual which was distributed to chapters across the country; the purpose of the manual was to provide staff and volunteers with information to help answer questions on common topics like diet, nutrition and treatments options.
Other informational resources stemming from CLF-Health Canada partnership included the first-ever informational brochures on hepatitis B and C in Canada. These brochures were distributed to CLF chapters as well as public health boards, community organizations, hospitals and support groups to help educate Canadians.
The advancements in the state and knowledge of hepatitis C in Canada can be traced back to this partnership and the initiatives launched by the CLF. Without this significant joint effort, the number of Canadians who would still unknowingly be at risk of a disease that can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately liver failure would be dangerously high.
To learn more about how you can join forces with the CLF and help us work towards eliminating hepatitis C in Canada by the year 2030, please contact us.