Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation awards nine grants to support care for high-risk patients with hepatitis B and C in China and India

Bristol-Myers SquibbThe Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation today announced nine new grants totaling more than $3.5 million to strengthen efforts in China and India in the fight against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by focusing on the most vulnerable, high-risk patient populations.

The multi-year grants were made through the Foundation's Delivering Hope™ initiative, which has supported more than 40 projects in China and India since 2002.

These new grants align with the World Health Organization's (WHO) strategies for reducing the incidence of HBV and HCV infection through early diagnosis and screening of high-risk populations, including intravenous drug users and patients co-infected with HIV and/or tuberculosis. Several focus on increasing awareness about disease transmission among health care providers who care for HBV- and HCV-infected patients, who also are considered at-risk for contracting viral hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is an urgent public health issue in Asia. In China and India together, it is estimated that more than 123 million people are infected with chronic hepatitis B and about 60 million with hepatitis C. Although progress has been made in introducing national policies to control the spread of HBV and HCV, community and general awareness is considerably low. When left untreated, viral hepatitis infections result in liver failure and chronic liver disease that can create a significant burden on families and society.

Last year, Delivering Hope established three Centers of Excellence, one in China and two in India, that are scaling up and replicating achievements in hepatitis awareness, prevention and treatment from past Foundation grantees, including several organizations receiving new grants.

"Delivering Hope continues to increase its focus on HBV and HCV in China and India, the two countries that have the highest incidence of viral hepatitis worldwide," said John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. "Working with the Foundation's Centers of Excellence in these countries, our grantees are using successful evidence-based practices to support the WHO's efforts at raising awareness and prevention of viral hepatitis among the most vulnerable and high-risk populations, training the health care professionals who care for these patients and increasing vaccinations and testing, all of which continue to build health care capacity and support strong community models for hepatitis prevention and control."

The Foundation awarded grants for the following new projects in China:

  • Peking University Education Foundation - A virtual community for chronic hepatitis patients will be developed to provide a support system and enhance capacity of rural health care workers through three functions: electronic health records, online social media and patients' personal reported health status. The online community will empower patients to better self-manage their disease and provide physicians with valuable information about how patients live with the disease in real life.
  • Hepatitis B Foundation - Working with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hepatitis B Foundation will develop a program to empower rural patients to become actively involved in their disease management and provide training for rural doctors on hepatitis B diagnosis, transmission, prevention and disease care and treatment.
  • Wu Jieping Medical Foundation - Based on findings from prior programs and research funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Wu Jieping will conduct a study of the present status of HCV treatment and the factors that influence it and will investigate HCV management and education status among specific at-risk populations, including those co-infected with HCV and HIV and/or tuberculosis, children and adolescents younger than age 19, HCV patients who have cirrhosis, HCV patients with renal insufficiency and requiring dialysis, and health care workers who have close contact with these special populations.
  • Inno Community Development Organization - Migrant workers are a high-risk group for HCV infection because of their low awareness of the disease, high levels of migration and lack of access to health care. In addition to education that will encourage self-screening and raise awareness among migrant workers, Inno Community Development Organization will establish 10 community-based Hepatitis C Intervention Centers for the migrant population in Guangdong Province. Based on the program's success, it will serve as a model for a wider, countrywide rollout.

The Foundation awarded grants for the following projects in India:

  • All India Institute of Diabetes and Research - A pilot program in Mehsana and Sabarkantha, two rural districts in the state of Gujrat that have experienced HBV outbreaks, will expand HBV testing in public health care institutions, make vaccinations more widely available through a network of nongovernmental organizations and hospitals, and train health care practitioners on injection safety and universal precautions against HBV.
  • MAMTA - Health care providers, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and others who come into direct contact with hepatitis patients, will receive training in HBV and HCV risk assessment, disease prevention and risk management. Community-based programs will target high-risk groups, including intravenous drug user and their partners, pregnant women and newborns. A health card will be issued to all high-risk populations to track their navigation to comprehensive health care services.
  • United Way of Mumbai - To help prevent disease in the hardest-hit and most-at-risk populations, medical interventions and extensive community education will take place in 18 slum areas in Mumbai. The project will adopt HOPE Initiative's Center of Excellence School Health Program to educate students and their families about HBV prevention and control.
  • SAMARTH - As new grantees join the Foundation's Delivering Hope initiative in India, proper monitoring and evaluation will ensure that program goals are achieved. SAMARTH will conduct training activities to strengthen partners' ability to self-monitor and evaluate their program’s progress and provide objective information about program functioning, methodologies, effectiveness and impact, and identify potential gaps.

In addition, the Foundation awarded a grant to the World Hepatitis Alliance to develop a new model of patient group creation aimed at physicians who treat viral hepatitis and engage them in creating and sustaining patient support groups. These groups play a large role in advocacy efforts that have changed health care policies and practices for a range of diseases around the world.

The World Hepatitis Alliance will develop an e-learning tool comprised of a video course and a text-based tool kit that will focus on the importance of advocacy to promote viral hepatitis awareness and prevention, the need for patient groups to be integral to advocacy, advantages to physicians of having strong patient groups, provide information about creating a patient group and supporting existing groups and map out support available from the World Hepatitis Alliance and other sources.

These learning materials will be housed on the World Hepatitis Alliance website and will be available to be hosted on other websites, including those operated by major international hepatology societies, to ensure wide distribution. The project will include China and India, but is more broadly aimed at the world.

Delivering Hope has initiated more than six patient empowerment projects in China and India, reaching more than 6,000 patients.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.

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