The Hepatitis B Foundation launched its Gateway to Care public health program on April 8, 2011. The program has been up and running ever since. An introduction to the program, followed by a quarterly update by Dr. Gang Chen, seems important, so others are aware of this successful program. The Haimen City project is led by Gang Chen, MD, PhD, and Director of China Programs for HBF. Dr. Chen was born in Haimen City and received his training from the Shanghai Medical School approximately 60 miles from Haimen City, in Shanghai. For the past 15 years, Dr. Chen has been traveling bi-annually to continue data collection for the Haimen City cohort study. He was the perfect candidate to lead the Gateway to Care public health campaign.
The Gateway to Care campaign, Haimen City, was made possible by a $400,000 educational grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Haimen City was selected because it has one of the highest HBV and liver cancer rates in China. Over 10% of the population are hepatitis B carriers.
The goal of the Gateway to Care campaign is to educate and help raise HBV and liver cancer awareness among its one million residents. The project has three primary goals focusing on raising public awareness, providing target group education and providing hepatitis B management for pregnant women. Ultimately the main goal of the campaign is to create a model program that can readily be adapted and duplicated in other cities throughout China, where the hepatitis B and liver cancer burden is also enormous.
Public health programs like the Haimen City, Gateway to Care campaign must be carefully created based on the culture and the population and the language. China is a large, diverse country. Materials must be developed that address the needs of the community and will be accepted. It’s not a speedy process, but one that must be slowly integrated into the fabric of the community. The goals of the program were emphasized through community events, giveaways, public displays, public screenings, and the education of local doctors, who are the community’s front line physicians. Because HBV is very effectively transmitted vertically from HBV infected mom to her baby at birth, an HBV management program was also put into place specifically for pregnant women, which also includes both a retrospective and a prospective study.
A project logo was created emphasizing the key message and creating a brand. Standard playing cards with 15 key messages pertaining to HBV transmission, prevention, testing and treatment were also printed on the cards making them both functional and educational. Pamphlets and billboards with more detailed information were created and displayed or distributed at community events along with the cards. A bi-monthly health education publication featured important knowledge about hepatitis B was delivered to every household, or a total of 280,000 households, reaching the one million residents of the city. These are very effective modes of outreach in the Haimen City community.
Stay tuned for the next update from Dr. Chen on more detailed specifics of the Gateway to Care, public awareness part of the public health campaign.