Tackling high rates of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in our PHN
30 December 2017
All suburbs within NWMPHN
Three per cent of Victorians live with viral hepatitis in the NWMPHN catchment. The prevalence of hepatitis B in Melbourne, Yarra, Brimbank, Darebin and Maribyrnong, and the incidence of hepatitis C in Melbourne, Brimbank, Darebin, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton and Wyndham, are higher than the Victorian averages.
If left untreated, both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can lead to serious liver disease, liver cancer and death.
Recent changes to the prescribing and dispensing of hepatitis B and hepatitis C treatment have improved access and availability. These changes include access to hepatitis B and hepatitis C medicines through community pharmacies and the listing of new direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) to treat hepatitis C on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) General Schedule.
These changes mean more people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C can receive treatment in primary care. There is a pressing need to train and support the primary health workforce to increase screening, treatment and management of people with and/or at risk of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
NWMPHN has identified both hepatitis B and hepatitis C as priorities. In particular, NWMPHN is focusing on prevention, testing, treatment, and reducing stigma and discrimination, in alignment with the Victorian hepatitis B strategy 2016-2020 and Victorian hepatitis C strategy 2016-2020.
Part of NWMPHN’s hepatitis B and hepatitis C work includes commissioning organisations, with relevant expertise and experience, to deliver projects within our catchment that:
- Impact on workforce capacity building and/or health literacy in the hepatitis sector.
- Meet at least one of the following objectives:
- Improve the skills and knowledge of the primary care workforce (including GPs, nurses, pharmacists and needle syringe program workers) about hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
- Develop health literacy resources in English and other languages for people with or at risk of hepatitis B or hepatitis C, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and current drug users.
- Encourage people at risk of hepatitis B and hepatitis C to seek testing and treatment where appropriate.
- Support the primary care workforce to screen, manage and treat people with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
- Reduce stigma and discrimination among people with or at risk of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.