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Implementation of Community Strategy Targeting Pakistani Migrants with Hepatitis C Living in Catalonia, Spain

A study, published in BMJ Open, performed a budget impact analysis of the HepClink test-and-treat strategy in which community health agents offer hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing, diagnosis and treatment to the Pakistani population living in Catalonia compared with the current practice of the Catalan health system (without targeted screening programmes).

The study estimated the population of adult Pakistani migrants registered at the primary care centres in Catalonia by means of the Information System for the Development of Research in Primary Care (n=37 972 in 2019, Barcelona health area). This cohort was followed for a time period of 10 years after HCV diagnosis (2019–2028). The statistical significance of the differences observed in the anti-HCV positivity rate between screened and non-screened was confirmed (α=0.05). The budget impact was calculated from the perspective of the Catalan Department of Health. Sensitivity analyses included different levels of participation in HepClink: pessimistic, optimistic and maximum.

The HepClink scenario screened a higher percentage of individuals (69.8%) compared with the current scenario of HCV care (39.7%). Viraemia was lower in the HepClink scenario compared with the current scenario (1.7% vs 2.5%, respectively). The budget impact of the HepClink scenario was €884 244.42 in 10 years.

Conclusions: Scaling up the HepClink strategy to the whole Catalan territory infers a high budget impact for the Department of Health and allows increasing the detection of viraemia (+17.8%) among Pakistani migrants ≥18 years. To achieve a sustainable elimination of HCV by improving screening and treatment rates, there is room for improvement at two levels. First, taking advantage of the fact that 68.08% of the Pakistani population had visited their primary care physicians to reinforce targeted screening in primary care. Second, to use HepClink at the community level to reach individuals with reluctance to use healthcare services.

Access full study results here.