The newly founded Hellenic Liver Patient Association (HELPA) has already (prior to its foundation) been creating active contact with the scientific community and so it continues to do, participating in numerous Hepatitis congresses and meetings in Greece and abroad. The most recent meeting, the 20th ‘’Hadziyannis’’ International Hepatitis B and C Meeting (named after Honorary Prof. Stefanos Hadziyannis) took place in Athens in January 26-27 2013 and was organized by Hepatitis B & C association and the Hellenic Association for the Study of Liver.
During the two day meeting there have been various well documented presentations and lectures as well as broad discussion upon the latest epidemiological, clinical, laboratorial, genetic and therapeutical data and parameters of Hepatitis B and C and their complications around the globe. Among granted scientists invited from abroad we had the honour to attend lectures by Professors R. Esteban and M. Buti from Spain and K. Agarwal from the UK.
Additionally there have been round tables and presentations upon the sociological and state issues related to the disease, its management and its impact on public health, especially those in Greece and other European countries, in times of long term financial crisis and recession. Particularly interesting facts were presented by Mr Stanimir Hasardzhiev, Executive Director of ELPA, on the Euro-Hepatitis Index and the good practices in Bulgaria and Croatia. On behalf of the Greek patients, Mr George Kalamitsis, president of HELPA, introduced the new patient association to the audience and stated its first official activities and immediate targets. Mrs Niki Voudouri representative of the Greek NGO PRAKSIS displayed the exceptionally significant activity taken by the organization in the streets of Athens, on Hepatitis B and C and HIV testing of intravenous drug users and other special populations vulnerable to the above infections.
On the other hand special data on intervention in the IVDU population of Northern Greece were presented by the Greek state organization against drugs (OKANA) and vivid discussion was initiated by Mr. P. Efstathiou, head of the Greek National Health Utilities Center, an essential health administrative organization that coordinates the administration of hospitals as well as various state interventions in the field of public health. Among other issues, Mr Efstathiou is responsible for state health provisions for migrants and citizens without insurance. In his presentation he stated that he Greek Health Department intends to take special care for the treatment of the above mentioned viral infections in these sub-populations but the data he displayed were not at all convincing.
HELPA in collaboration and with support of Professor of epidemiology Dr.Hatzakis is already planning a proximate meeting with Mr. Efstathiou, in which we intend to state the critical issues of billing and insurance coverage of the molecular diagnostic tests for Hepatitis B and C as well as the medication coverage for all infected patients within the country, regardless their legal or insurance status. For that reason we are already in contact with experts from the University Dept. of Health Finance in order to obtain a relevant cost-effectiveness analysis.
Source: George Kalamitsis