The Canadian Treatment Action Council launched a call-to-action campaign to end hepatitis C in Canada, according to a white paper published by the organization. The authors focused on treatment access policy issues in Canada that must be addressed to achieve the WHO elimination targets by 2030.
“We’re hoping our white paper stimulates a response at all levels of government so that every Canadian managing HCV will have access to equitable and timely testing and treatment,” Shelina Karmali, executive director of CTAC, said in a press release. “HCV is 100 percent curable.”
According to Karmali and colleagues, Canada is faltering regarding its commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public threat. “In Canada, as elsewhere, hepatitis C rates are on the rise because we have no implemented comprehensive public health strategies to stem the time,” Karmali and colleagues wrote.
The white paper, titled “The time has come to eliminate hepatitis C in Canada,” calls for a coordinated national response, including collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments to eliminate HCV in the next decade. The paper includes the following comprehensive action plan:
- Increased access to testing, including point-of-care testing, rapid testing, and one-time cohort screening for all baby boomers;
- Removal of restrictive eligibility requirements to access treatment;
- Access to all hepatitis C medications approved by Health Canada on public drug programs;
- Creation of a framework by the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) to standardize processes and timelines and add transparency;
- Removal of the time delay between the close of pCPA negotiations and the signing of Product Listing Agreements with individual provincial and territorial formularies;
- Lower drug costs; and
- A standalone viral hepatitis plan.
“Canada lacks a stand-alone hepatitis action plan, and a clear commitment to the well-being and quality of life of people living with HCV. Strategies at the provincial, territorial, and federal levels are needed that set measurable goals, and are in line with WHO goals and measures of success,” Karmali and colleagues wrote. “The populations living with HCV today are larger than ever before, and are made up of Canada’s most marginalized communities including newcomers, Indigenous peoples, and injection drug users. This does not have to remain the case, and Canada’s WHO commitment is achievable.” – by Talitha Bennett