Major successes on Capitol Hill
Aug. 26, 2021 – A key aspect of the Hepatitis B Foundation’s efforts to eradicating hepatitis B is advocacy, particularly trying to educate and influence members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs.
Our work this year with the House Appropriations Committee resulted in major wins in terms of policy and funding priorities at several federal agencies. That includes Foundation initiative to obtain Congressional funding to create a Center of Public Health Excellence targeted at finding better treatments and ultimately the elimination if hepatitis B.
Funding for the Center depends on final approval of the FY 2022 spending bills later this year. If it’s funded, the Center would be a huge win in the fight against hepatitis B. It would centralize hepatitis B elimination efforts and provide expert resources, advice, training, capacity building and technical assistance for state and local health departments, social service organizations and community health providers on how to best prevent, treat and control hepatitis B to increase the rate of adult vaccination for hepatitis B. While we wait for final word to celebrate the Center’s creation, please note the following successes that are already final and making an immediate difference.
Language included in the House Appropriations Bill that was recommended by the Foundation includes:
- NIH will issue new targeted calls for research to cure hepatitis B.
- The National Cancer Institute will support research needed to develop a liver cancer screening test using the blood and saliva samples from widespread COVID testing.
- The National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) will explore ways to increase success through collaboration with business incubators, using the example of the Pennsylvania Biotech Center.
- CDC will have an increased $5 million in funding for its Division of Viral Hepatitis at the CDC, was encouraged to continue investing in hepatitis B grants for community-based organizations and has been asked to develop a plan to increase the rate of adult hepatitis B vaccination.
- The HHS Office of the Secretary was urged to make sure they are not discriminating against employees with hepatitis B and encouraged to implement strategies aimed at reversing the rates of viral hepatitis.