Approximately 180 million people in the world are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is about 2.5% of the world’s population. A chronic infection with hepatitis C poses a high risk of developing serious life threatening liver diseases. Despite the significant health risks of HCV and its staggering prevalence, media coverage of the pandemic is low and the public is not well informed.
The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) is launching a global initiative to educate the media on HCV. The goal of this campaign will be to provide journalists around the world with the appropriate tools, data sets and education to accurately cover the HCV story.
The WFSJ has assembled a steering committee of prominent hepatitis experts and top level journalists (See list of committee members at the end of this document). The group met for the first time this past April at the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) conference in Vienna to draft an action plan.
The committee recently met again in Paris at the end of May to produce a global education plan that would address the regional hepatitis reporting needs of journalists from around the world.
The education plan will help journalists explore:
- The global disease burden of HCV
- The health risks of HCV and the need for screening
- The challenges associated with HCV treatment and prevention
- The rapidly evolving HCV treatment landscape
- Global HCV public health policy
The educational materials:
- A hepatitis C reporting toolkit that will include a simplification of facts about HCV (epidemiology, strains, treatments, vaccines, etc…), regional fact sheets, how to decipher how data is/should be obtained – how to judge credible information, ethical issues, regional and global health policy, understanding big pharma, how to ask the tough questions. The main focus will be to break down the reporting needs of journalists by world region and address those needs. The full educational package will be released on World Hepatitis day (July 28) and includes a live webinar.
- An “ask the experts” database of authorities on different aspects of HCV (public health policy-, science-, and patient-oriented).
In the coming months we will hold HCV workshops for journalists in several parts of the world. The Federation has extensive experience with organizing this type of educational activity. We have produced mentoring workshops in Asia, Africa and the middle-East. Among our current projects is an initiative in Africa focussing on emergency public health situations and crisis reporting in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).
We will also begin to roll-out a plan to create a virtual health media center. At the root of the center’s inception is feedback obtained from journalists in regions of the world where information isn’t easily accessible, such as regions in Africa and the Middle-East. These journalists have expressed a need for access to a virtual network of expert sources that transcends geographical and political borders. The website will build on the expert database that will be provided in the basic tool kit. It will also include experts from a growing number of scientific topics. Ultimately, it will link journalists to scientists, credible and accessible information, data, contacts, etc., and provide key tools to collect, analyze, and visualize data.
The flyer on the HCV program can be found here.
Steering Committee Members
Chair: Phil Hilts (Award-winning science journalist and former Director, Knight Science Journalism Program MIT)
Members: Health journalists Poul Birch Eriksen (Special Correspondent, Danish Broadcasting Corporation and former Executive Producer), Cécile Klingler (Science journalist and former News and Biology Editor at La Recherche), Mohammed Yahia (Executive Editor for the Middle-East, Nature), Charles Gore (President of the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), and leading HCV researcher Jean-Michel Pawlotsky (Director of the National Reference Center for Viral Hepatitis B, C and Delta and of the Department of Virology at the Henri Mondor University Hospital)
Project Manager – Hepatitis Initiative
Phone +1 514 508 2777