By Rayan Sheety
May 28, 2013
Dubai: “Globally, majority of Hepatitis C victims struggle with the disease due to unsafe healthcare,” said Charles Gore, the president of the World Hepatitis Alliance.
The Emirates Medical Association (EMA) hosted a charity-appreciation benefit on Monday at the Palace Hotel in the Downtown area.
The event acknowledged charities like Red Crescent, Zakat Fund and 30 other NGOs for their contribution towards generating awareness about Hepatitis C and providing support for patients who have contracted the disease and are not financially equipped to acquire treatment.
The benefit started with a speech by Dr Yousif Al Serkal, after which a video was previewed showcasing the many efforts carried out by the 30 NGOs.
After the video, Gore gave a presentation about general statistics regarding Hepatitis C and the role of NGOs in helping patients cope with a disease that has the same mortality rate as HIV if contracted with Hepatitis B.
“The problem with Hepatitis C is that it has a low priority in most countries,” said Gore. He outlined a cycle which stated that a lack of awareness about Hepatitis C leads to low priority which in turn leads to lack of funding. This all contributes to a lack of proper data, action and awareness.
Through this cycle he introduced the concept of World Hepatitis Day, going on to say, “Every country, every government should have activities for World Hepatitis Day.” He further stated that World Hepatitis Day is “designed to be an overwhelming framework in which countries can do whatever is appropriate for them.”
Activities on World Hepatitis Day include raising awareness through multiple platforms like screening events, Radio/TV interviews and press conferences as well as free vaccinations and sporting events and so on and so forth.
Gore went on to talk about the roles NGOs can play in the lives of Hepatitis C patients besides financially supporting them.
“Aside from funding, NGOs can provide reliable information so patients know there is somewhere to go to find help,” said Gore, further stating that hepatitis patients need support because of stigma and discrimination that is thrown their way by people who do not fully understand the disease.
He also said, “I came to understand that representation and advocacy are as important as support,” before concluding his presentation by thanking the members of the NGOs for their “tremendous” efforts.
The benefit was concluded with the presenting of awards to various present members of the 30 NGOs that participated in the Hepatitis C campaign and the presenting of the final award to Gore himself.