Hepatitis C is the most common reason for liver transplants in Switzerland. Cases of liver cancer and liver failure as a consequence of viral hepatitis have increased in the last few years and will increase further unless comprehensive measures to fight the epidemic are put in place quickly. At the same time, awareness of the consequences of hepatitis in Switzerland is low compared to other countries. Switzerland ranked 12th in the Euro Hepatitis Care Index, and when it came to tests only 17th, behind Poland and Portugal and before Romania and Lithuania.
The paradox of today’s situation is that there are effective medicines available with only few side effects, which are easy to take, offer a short course of treatment and promise very high success rates. But because of their high costs only patients with moderate liver damage or diagnosed cirrhosis are covered by the general health insurance. However, postponing treatment could lead to more deaths and infections. But even if the medicines were made available to everyone, the majority of people infected are not aware of their infection.
Based on these findings a group of expert organizations related to the HBV and HCV, among them the Swiss Experts in Viral Hepatitis and the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, decided to launch a project to develop and to implement a Swiss Hepatitis Strategy. In the meantime the group has grown to an network of over 80 experts and almost 30 organizations in the field. All stakeholders that deal with viral hepatitis in Switzerland are represented in the network. The goal of this private initiative is to eliminate viral hepatitis in Switzerland till 2030. This shall be achieved by preventing new hepatitis infections, improving detection rates and access to treatment, and eliminating the morbidity and mortality associated with viral hepatitis. By doing so, the individual, medical and socio-economic consequences of the hepatitis epidemic shall be eliminated with patient-friendly, cost-efficient and implementable measures.
The project design is based on the methodology of the Governmental Learning Spiral. The project process is paralleled by a custom-made monitoring and evaluation concept, which is composed by 32 statements directed towards the project goal. The survey’s sample includes the Network Members of the project. It is foreseen that the survey will be repeated every six months over a timeframe of 15 years. The compilation of each poll is recorded on a scorecard that gives an overview about the progress of the project.