Windows of Opportunity: Integrated Hepatitis C Programming Approaches for Priority Populations


Knowledge exchange resources and tools to build capacity for change

The following knowledge exchange tools were identified as priority needs to enable implementation of the programming, organizational and structural recommendations listed above and which will inform CATIE’s knowledge exchange activities moving forward. 

Increase knowledge exchange of existing integrated, responsive hepatitis C program models

Although there are many promising and innovative integrated hepatitis C frontline program models across the country, there are no systematic ways to share these programs or to evaluate promising practices. There is a need to build on significant local innovation among frontline service providers and communities across the country by prioritizing the following knowledge exchange activities:

  • Identify and map out existing program models and document them to share lessons learned and promising practices. In particular, there is a need to identify and document how harm reduction programs are adapting their program models to provide continued support and care in the context of new, more effective and shorter treatment regimens. The Indigenous-focused discussions highlighted the need for a mapping exercise to document existing urban and rural models across the country, both on- and off-Reserve, and to create linkages across programs to foster learning and support.
  • Build a national network of individuals and organizations working with immigrants and newcomers to Canada or interested in developing models geared toward this priority population. Immigrants and newcomers to Canada have far fewer services than other populations, and a national network might boost development of programs for them.
  • Develop good practice recommendations to help build local capacity among providers working in low-resource primary care and social service settings.
  • Develop good practice recommendations and training opportunities focused on how to develop effective peer-based models and other models led by those most affected.
  • Develop good practice recommendations on how to partner with existing organizations operated by and for those most affected (Indigenous peoples, people who use injection drugs, etc.)

Invest in education and capacity-building for healthcare providers

There is an urgent need to build capacity in hepatitis C. This includes developing and delivering education modules and other training strategies designed to build capacity in primary care and social service settings. It is particularly critical to develop tools and resources for clinicians and service users to increase their awareness and knowledge about hepatitis C testing. Alongside learning tools directly related to hepatitis C, there is also a need to increase education and capacity of healthcare providers to work with a diversity of populations and follow an anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, harm reduction and culturally safe approach to care.

Enhance health and hepatitis C literacy amongst service providers from varying sectors and amongst the Canadian public

There is a need to prioritize health and hepatitis C literacy amongst non-health specific service providers and amongst the Canadian public more broadly. There remains much misinformation on hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, and on prevention and treatment options. One of the benefits of new hepatitis C treatments is that people may be incentivized to test. However, many people continue to believe that interferon, with its challenging side effects, is the main treatment for hepatitis C, and this is a potential deterrent to testing and treatment consideration.

Enhance health equity literacy amongst policy-makers, service providers, and the Canadian public

There is a need to develop clearer and more consistent understanding of the language around and function of health equity and social determinants of health and hepatitis C. Specifically, there is a need to:

  • Establish a clear understanding of the concepts and dynamics of health equity and social determinants of health.
  • Develop a clear understanding of social determinants of hepatitis C and a cohesive analysis of how the hepatitis C epidemic is connected to issues of health equity.
  • Establish tools for incorporating health equity into practise and develop mechanisms for sharing case studies and good practices.

Enhance community systems strengthening literacy and capacity amongst populations most affected, service providers, and policy-makers

There is a need to develop a clear understanding of the community systems strengthening framework, and to build capacity to engage in community systems strengthening initiatives.  Specifically, there is a need to:

  • Establish a clear understanding of the concept and dynamics of community systems strengthening.
  • Develop tools for local and regional health systems mapping and analyses.
  • Develop tools and best practices for advocacy, movement-building and broad stakeholder mobilization.
  • Develop mechanisms for sharing case studies of effective community systems strengthening initiatives, including lessons learned from the HIV movement.