Issue 8
Monday, 01 October 2018
Charles Darwin University
Menzies Project Lead Dr Jane Davies with Health Minister Natasha Fyles and Project Coordinator Paula Binks at the partnership launch
Menzies Project Lead Dr Jane Davies with Health Minister Natasha Fyles and Project Coordinator Paula Binks at the partnership launch

Chronic hepatitis B elimination partnership launched

A new collaboration is working to eliminate chronic hepatitis B (CHB) from the Aboriginal population in the Northern Territory.

The $5.2 million National Health and Medical Research Council partnership grant is led by Dr Jane Davies at Menzies School of Health Research and supported by an additional $3.2 million over five years from the NT Department of Health. 

The partnership also includes Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine.

Dr Davies, an infectious diseases expert at Menzies and specialist physician at Royal Darwin Hospital, said CHB infection was common in the Indigenous communities of the NT with a prevalence of up to 12 per cent.

“Of those living with CHB, 25 per cent will die from it with either liver failure or liver cancer,” Dr Davies said.

“By elimination we mean no more new cases acquired in the NT, alongside providing gold-standard care for existing cases.

“We have two main aims. The first is to focus on improving health literacy about hepatitis B among Indigenous communities, people living with CHB and primary health care providers. We plan to do this through a Hep B Story app, which will be translated into 10 more Aboriginal languages and delivered by trained Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

“Secondly, we aim to improve the care for individuals living with CHB by establishing a clinical register, supporting ongoing healthcare provider training, and the coordinated transition of CHB care into primary care,” she said.

A register of people living with CHB will be created and a core clinical care team allocated to facilitate the organised delivery of recommended care to everyone who needs it.

Minister for Health Natasha Fyles said the partnership provided an important opportunity for the Territory Government, through NT Health, to work with Menzies and other health service providers to make hep B infection a problem of the past.

“Hep B can be potentially forgotten about in a busy health system, but we are committed to wiping it out,” Ms Fyles said.

“Better treatment for chronic hep B has provided a sense of urgency to diagnose and offer treatment to all people with a chronic infection.

“That’s why we are providing $3.2 million in support and funds to help this important partnership eradicate hep B once and for all,” she said.