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Reflecting on the Global Hepatitis Conference #MobilizeforHEP: A Call to Action for Hepatitis

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

What Happened in a Pledging Conference for Mobilizing for Hepatitis?

by: NJ Torres Jacobson

Jacqui Thornton Finn-Jarle Rode and Michel Kazatchkine,
Jacqui Thornton commands the stage, holding the pledging form high, as a resounding call echoes through the halls. THF's Finn-Jarle Rode and Michel Kazatchkine, from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, delivered an impassioned plea to funders worldwide. #MobilizeforHEP. #NoHep #EndHep #HepCantWait #openingsession #pledgingconference

Introduction:

On May 17th, 2023, the Hotel Intercontinental in Geneva became the epicenter of a momentous event — the first Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference. With an ambitious goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030 - or 2040 - or maybe even 2050, this groundbreaking conference brought together passionate individuals, esteemed experts, and committed partners from across the globe. As we look back on this remarkable event, we recall the inspirational discussions, powerful commitments, and united call to action that resonated throughout the conference halls.


The Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference #MobilizeforHEP brought together leaders, experts, and stakeholders from around the world to address the urgent need for increased financial and political commitment towards eliminating viral hepatitis. The conference aimed to mobilize resources, raise awareness, and foster collaboration to combat this global health challenge. Let's delve into the key highlights and outcomes of the pledging conference, shedding light on the discussions, commitments, and the path forward.


Igniting Excitement and Spreading Awareness:

In the weeks leading up to the conference, anticipation grew palpable, igniting a sense of excitement within the global community. This fervor was further fueled by the fact that May marked Hepatitis Awareness Month—a timely reminder of the urgency to address this pressing issue. Engaging in thought-provoking discussions with world leaders and experts, participants were united in their commitment to raise awareness about hepatitis, share knowledge on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and inspire action on a global scale. The conference became a platform to amplify the collective voice calling for a hepatitis-free world.


NJ Torres Jacobson at The Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference with  Dr Su Wang
THF's NJ Torres Jacobson & with Dr Su Wang, Medical Director of the Center for Asian Health at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, US

Setting the Stage:

The conference kicked off with an electrifying atmosphere, brimming with excitement and anticipation. Dignitaries from diverse sectors, including government officials, representatives from international organizations, advocacy groups, and healthcare professionals, converged with a collective resolve to drive change in the battle against hepatitis. As part of the team supporting the Hepatitis Fund, I played a pivotal role in spearheading the digital media marketing efforts for the event, ensuring that every detail was shared far and wide, and reaching different audiences worldwide to join us in raising awareness. Through compelling digital media campaigns and passionate appeals, we rallied supporters, urging them to join us in this crucial endeavor to tackle the challenges of hepatitis head-on. Together, we sought to galvanize a united front against this pervasive public health threat and forge a path towards a future free from the burdens of hepatitis.



Mobilizing Resources and Accelerating Progress:

The Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference served as a catalyst for mobilizing financial and political support. It aimed to generate strategic investments in key countries, expediting the implementation of national plans and driving progress towards hepatitis elimination. Through a collaborative effort, the conference sought to establish a coalition of funders committed to complementing existing initiatives, such as the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. By facilitating equitable access to drugs and diagnostics, the conference aimed to ensure that no one would be left behind in the fight against this global health threat.


Expert Insights and Calls to Action:

Renowned experts, including influential leaders in the field of viral hepatitis, shared their valuable insights and rallied participants to take action. They emphasized the need for comprehensive national action plans, increased vaccination coverage, improved access to testing and treatment, and stronger collaboration between governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector. These calls to action resonated throughout the conference, inspiring participants to redouble their efforts in the fight against hepatitis.



ChelseaClinton in #MobilizeForHep conference
"We have the tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat viral hepatitis. They are not expensive or difficult to obtain, they just aren't reaching the people who need them", says Chelsea Clinton in #MobilizeForHep

Captivating Agendas and Influential Speakers: The conference boasted a captivating agenda with sessions led by influential speakers, each bringing their unique perspectives and expertise to the forefront. Renowned individuals such as Gregg Alton, Chairman of the Board of Directors at The Hepatitis Fund, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, through a video, shared their insights and set the tone for the discussions ahead.


Prominent Themes and Discussions:

Throughout the conference, a range of critical themes and topics were addressed, providing a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities in eliminating hepatitis. These discussions encompassed key areas such as funding, access to diagnostics and treatment, community engagement, advocacy efforts, and the role of industry partnerships.







CHAI's Corina and THF's NJ with Jacqui Thornton
CHAI's Corina and THF's NJ with Jacqui Thornton

Empowering Community Voices and Driving Change:

The conference provided a platform for community representatives and advocates to share their experiences and highlight the importance of including the voices of affected communities in decision-making processes. Personal stories of resilience, challenges, and triumphs served as a reminder of the human impact of hepatitis and reinforced the urgency to prioritize prevention, care, and support for those affected. Voices of the Community, featured inspiring community speakers from different corners of the world, including Kenneth Kabagambe, a Hepatitis Advocate from Uganda, and Raquel Peck, a survivor and advocate from England and Brazil., Anton Basenko – Harm Reduction Services and Integrated HIV and Hepatitis Care from Ukraine and Sister Annie Kanunga – from Zambia.



THF's NJ Torres Jacobson with Sister Annie Kanunga – from Zambia
THF's NJ Torres Jacobson with Sister Annie Kanunga – from Zambia

Communities impacted by hepatitis, advocates, and caregivers all played a crucial role in highlighting the importance of simplifying treatment strategies, involving key populations in decision-making, and demanding equal access to quality care and affordable treatment. By amplifying these voices and demanding change, the conference aimed to create a more inclusive and equitable approach to hepatitis elimination.


Financial Commitments and Moving Forward:

One of the focal points of the conference was securing financial commitments to support hepatitis elimination efforts. While the desired large-scale commitment was not achieved during the conference, the discussions laid a solid foundation for future funding endeavors. Stakeholders expressed their commitment to continue working towards mobilizing resources and engaging with potential donors, emphasizing the importance of sustained financial backing to achieve the ambitious goal of hepatitis elimination.


Pledging Conference - Mobilize for Hepatitis

Conclusion:

The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and The Hepatitis Fund have made a significant breakthrough in reducing the cost of viral hepatitis treatment. During the inaugural Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference, two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were announced with leading generic manufacturers, Viatris and Hetero. These MoUs aim to secure historic ceiling prices for hepatitis B and C drugs in low- and middle-income countries. The pricing commitment announced at the conference will have a profound impact on increasing access to treatment for hepatitis.


The Pledging Conference for Mobilizing for Hepatitis was a significant milestone in the global fight against viral hepatitis. While the desired financial commitment was not immediately realized, the conference served as a catalyst for heightened awareness, collaboration, and renewed dedication towards achieving the ambitious goal of hepatitis elimination by 2030. The conference demonstrated the collective determination of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to tackle this pressing public health issue head-on. As we look to the future, the conference's outcomes will guide and inspire continued efforts, fostering a world free from the burden of viral hepatitis, such as advocating for hepatitis elimination, industry contributions to improving access to diagnostics and treatment, and the announcement of commitments to drive change. These sessions provided invaluable insights and paved the way for impactful discussions on combating hepatitis at a global level.













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