Nurses do amazing work across the globe. They access communities that many other health professionals have difficulty reaching, and connect with people from all walks of life.
This International Nurses Day, we are recognising the tremendous work of all of the nurses working with us to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat.
Hepatitis C is a virus causing liver inflammation resulting in mild to severe hepatitis. Left untreated, it can lead to liver disease and/or liver cancer.
Dr Jacqui Richmond, who is a nurse and Program Manager for the Workforce Development and Health Service Delivery component of the EC Australia program led by Burnet, said having the opportunity to eliminate a virus was rare but in the case of hepatitis C, it is possible.
“We are at the point where we can cure hepatitis C,” she said.
“We have the medication that can cure the infection and by rolling this out to affected communities across the country we have a real chance to eliminate the virus.”
Dr Richmond said nurses were essential to the delivery and success of elimination programs.
“Nurses are integral to the delivery of person-centred care. They are the people on the ground, working directly with people at risk and living with hepatitis C to ensure they can access the services they need.”
“It is a tough goal but it is achievable,” Dr Richmond said.
“No one person or organisation can achieve this singlehandedly, it requires a concentrated effort of people all working together for the same cause.
“So far, we have treated 100,000 people, which is a massive reduction of people living with the virus, but we still have a long way to go.”
Dr Richmond said the elimination of hepatitis C could be the biggest breakthrough in virus eradication since the elimination of polio more than 20 years ago.
“Our last case of locally-acquired polio in Australia was in the 1970s but we haven’t really achieved anything significant in virus elimination since then,” she said.
“Elimination of hepatitis C means people will no longer be living with an infectious disease that significantly impacts their quality of life.”
Dr Richmond said International Nurses Day was an opportunity to recognise the passion and dedication of our nurses.
“Seeing the extraordinary work of our nurses during the pandemic really highlights the vital role they play in our communities and their perseverance under difficult circumstances,” she said.
“Nurses have an incredible impact on people’s lives and it is important to recognise the role they play in hepatitis C elimination because they are at the forefront of this work.”
EC Australia brings together researchers, public health specialists, community organisations, government and health services to work in partnership to focus on eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat in Australia by 2030.