A local specialist doctor's generous donation, support from a Chinese community association and donations from the community has made it possible for an important hepatitis B service to continue for another year.
The Chinese language information and support service was set up in 2016 as part of a two-year hepatitis B community education project funded by the Australian government via Hepatitis Australia. Funding ended in June 2018.
In its first two years, the service had over 1185 contacts with people seeking support after diagnosis, information on treatment and testing or looking for help in getting appointments with health services. More information about the project is available in the Viral Hepatitis 2018 conference presentation slides and audio.
Between six to ten per cent of Chinese Australians have chronic hepatitis B, compared to less than one per cent in the wider population. About 14,500 South Australians live with hepatitis B and more than a fifth (22%) of these people are from the Chinese community. Almost half don’t know they have it. Left unmanaged, hepatitis B can lead to liver cirrhosis or cancer.
Hepatitis SA Hepatitis B Project Officer, Chen Bin said it was important that the information and support service continued uninterrupted. “A break in service could lead to confusion for some members of the community, a loss of faith in the reliability of the service and some community members left in the lurch,” she said.
“Even if we were to get funding later to restore the service, we would have to start from scratch because of the loss in confidence. That’s why we decided to try to raise funds from the community to tie the project over while more secure funding is being sought.”
With support from the Chinese Association of South Australia (CASA), Hepatitis SA approached the Chinese community for donations.
South Australian specialist, Dr Lee Wah Hin kick-started the campaign with $10,000; a second donation of $5,000 from CASA and a further $1,100 from other individuals in the Chinese community brought the total funds raised to $16,100 thus ensuring the service continued at a basic level for another 12 months.
Hepatitis SA would like to thank Dr Lee Wah Hin, CASA President Tan Tar Kim, Immediate Past President Julie Li, the CASA central committee, the CASA social committee and all the people who generously supported us with their time and money.