Advocate Advocacy Tools

Strengthening Advocacy for Hepatitis C Diagnostics: Georgia Workshop Summary Report

13-15 May 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

The Georgian Harm Reduction Network (GHRN), in partnership with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Treatment Action Group (TAG), and the Georgia Community Advisory Board (GeCAB)—comprised of medical and other healthcare providers and affected community members—convened an advocacy workshop to focus on strategies to overcome barriers to diagnostics and overall healthcare services in the national hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination plan, held at Hotel ZP Palace, in Tbilisi, Georgia. There were a total of 34 participants, including two medical providers, 24 resource persons from international organizations, national NGOs, and academia, and eight community members from HIV, HCV, LGBTQ+, and harm reduction communities. Participants included members of the GeCAB, other healthcare providers, and human rights, healthcare, and drug policy reform advocates from around the country.

Workshop goals:

  • Increase knowledge of treatment advocates on HCV prevention,
    diagnostics and treatment and harm reduction basics to overcome existing
    myths about treatment among people who inject drugs
  • Define existing barriers within HCV elimination program and to set
    effective strategies/ways to solve
  • Share good practices, lessons and tools for activists

Additionally, it was important to ensure that medical expertise was paired with community experiences and knowledge, and to understand how we could build a broad, intersectional healthcare advocacy network that complements existing advocacy platforms.

Following the technical and knowledge-building presentations, break out groups
focused on the following specific strategies:
1. Increase hepatitis B virus (HBV)/HCV screening in the community by way of decentralization
2. Integrate HBV vaccination in low-threshold harm reduction settings
3. Expand public awareness campaigns/capacity building of hepatitis C
4. Ensure community engagement in activities aimed at high-level, national policy reforms

In order to begin addressing these strategies, participants developed action plans which included plans to hold at least one day-long working meeting to elaborate detailed goals and formulate activities, find resources for a state and national budget advocacy training, share and coordinate activities for World Hepatitis Day and for the National HBV Conference later in 2019, create a communications platform (e.g., WhatsApp, Viber), and provide feedback/evaluation for conducting future meetings and training topics.

Download the report below.