ILBS, FIND organise orientation workshop in Delhi

Series of coordinated interventions undertaken to enhance increased availability, accessibility to hepatitis C testing

The Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) jointly convened an orientation workshop on April 2, 2019, for medical officers and laboratory technicians from polyclinics identified under the Unitaid-funded hepatitis C virus (HCV) HEAD-Start project. ILBS and FIND are implementing the HEAD-Start project in Delhi’s National Capital Region with support and guidance from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, with the goal of enhancing availability and accessibility of hepatitis C testing in key hospitals and polyclinics identified by the DGHS: Pt Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital, Maharshi Valmiki Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.

A series of coordinated interventions is being undertaken to enhance increased availability of, and accessibility to, hepatitis C testing. Capacity-building activities have been organised by ILBS and FIND for the hospitals and polyclinic staff under the HEAD-Start project, and this week’s event follows a capacity-building workshop that took place in December 2018 for nodal officers, comprising physicians and microbiologists from each hospital, and project staff on HCV diagnosis and treatment. It was at this workshop that Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Director of the ILBS and a strong proponent of finding the “missing” people infected with the HCV through early diagnosis, expressed that the ILBS–FIND partnership contributes to the development of a well-functioning network providing decentralised diagnosis for hepatitis C, with effective linkage to treatment centres in Delhi.

To promote point-of-care tests, so far seven HCV screening camps have been organised in different hospitals and polyclinics, covering more than 850 patients. In the coming weeks, more HCV screening camps will be organised at Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital and associated polyclinics. People who test positive for HCV antibodies will be referred to one of the five hospitals identified under the project for further diagnosis and treatment.

Delhi, with its ever-growing population, has a high burden of hepatitis C. Diagnosis of the disease followed by treatment with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) is critical. The HEAD-Start project aims to enhance hepatitis C diagnosis, exploring innovative testing strategies and treatment pathways in both general and vulnerable groups. This includes patients with clinical findings, people who inject drugs, individuals with HIV co-infection, patients on dialysis and patients who have undergone blood transfusions.

Dr Sanjay Sarin, Head of FIND India, said, “The HEAD-Start project will generate evidence for the implementation of effective diagnostic tools, and provide an operational service delivery model for the design of an integrated diagnostics and treatment blueprint, which will inform policymakers at both the state and central levels.”

The Hepatitis C Elimination through Access to Diagnostics (HEAD-Start) project is funded by Unitaid. It builds on earlier work supported by the government of the Netherlands, and UK aid from British people.

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