Eliminating chronic hepatitis B in the NT

Senior clinical research fellow, Dr Jane Davies, has dedicated the past eight years to eliminating the burden of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the NT. CHB, a virus that causes inflammation of the liver, is endemic in communities. Approximately 25 per cent of cases lead to liver cancer and liver failure.

In 2014, in collaboration with community-based researchers in Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, Dr Davies and her team piloted a model of care that delivered on-country care, naming it a ‘One-Stop Liver Shop’.

In addition to on-country care, the team developed and trialled an education app, the Hep B Story, in both English and Yolŋu Matha, one of the primary languages in Galiwin’ku. Importantly, the app was designed so that once downloaded, it no longer required data to access it.

The participatory bottom-up approach of the One-Stop Liver Shop model was critical to the success of the trial, with the local community-based workers playing a key role in the engagement process.

“It has been a massive game changer – you see people’s eyes light up as they go through the app for the first time and discover it speaks to them in their own language,” Dr Davies said.

“And our team of community-based researchers, some who have been working with us for more than five years, are able to utilise the app as they sit with people either in the waiting room or on the veranda outside the clinic.

“We are seeing figures well above the 50 per cent target outlined in the National Hepatitis B Strategy report for people engaged in care.”

Recently, the team received funding to translate an additional 10 Aboriginal languages for the app as well as creating a Hep B hub and rolling out the concept of the One-Stop Liver Shop.

“Being able to increase access to the app is so important. It means we can substantially improve community health literacy; 70 per cent of Aboriginal people will now have access to the Hep B Story in their first language,” Dr Davies said.

The organisations that form the partnership are Menzies, NT Department of Health, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, Katherine West Health Board, Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine and the NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council.

Learn more about our Hep B research here