loading-image
FIND's diagnostic solutions provide a ray of hope to inmates

By auther pic. Abhisikta Dey Ghosh

July 6, 2021

FIND's diagnostic solutions provide a ray of hope to inmates

FIND

India significantly contributes to the global burden of chronic Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which kills an estimated 700,000 people each year. The populous state of Punjab contributes a large percentage to the total 12-18 million infected HCV population in India, due to a higher proportion of people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men in these prisons. Hence, FIND India supported by a grant from Gilead and the Government of Punjab developed a model to screen, confirm and provide HCV treatment in 09 central and district level prisons of Punjab. This intervention has screened 15,388 prisoners for HCV, to date. Currently, screening and management of HCV have been initiated in all central prisons which have almost 78% of the total Punjab prison population. Over 14,000 prisoners have been screened till December 31, 2020; while many others have been just initiated upon with the treatment. Since the diagnosis and treatment both happen within the prison premises, the scalability of prison inmates receiving this treatment is huge as it is accessible and affordable by all. Once they complete their medication, the inmates are given a Sustained Viral Response (SVR), certifying that they have been considered equivalent to being cured.

This medical intervention is based upon a simple approach - screening, confirmatory testing, and linking at least 90% of confirmed patients with the public sector for free treatment. While, FIND India is responsible for screening the prison inmates for the presence of HCV infection and confirmatory HCV RNA testing, the Government of Punjab provides free treatment for HCV.

Background to the inception of FIND

FIND, a global non-profit organization was founded in 2003. It aims to bridge the existing development gaps for essential diagnostics by incubating programs to treat acute febrile respiratory infections, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and Hepatitis C, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), neglected tropical diseases, HIV, and pandemic preparedness. Their modus operandi is based on four strategic pillars to turn complex diagnostic challenges into simple solutions:

  1. Catalyse Development – Caters to the identification of the needed diagnostic solutions, while removing the barriers to their development.
  2. Accelerate Access – Their vision focuses on the appropriate usage of diagnostics to ensure good health for all.
  3. Guide use and policy – Clinical trials of diagnostic products specify the global policy on their use and market entry.
  4. Shape the agenda - Understanding the essence of complex diagnostics in providing a solution to fight diseases of poverty to transform lives.

FIND’s overall strategy is complemented by an access-specific strategy, underlining the commitment, ensuring that new tools are available for use and sustainably supplied in low- and middle-income countries, as they are affordable by the underprivileged sector, resource-poor settings, appropriate to the needs of the target population and adopted into the national policy. 

FIND: Transforming diagnostic landscapes since 2003  

FIND is strategically positioned to act as a connecting medium between global diagnostic solutions and national implementation. It aims to simplify the impact by establishing a set of strategic partnerships with country ministries of health, in-country partners, and implementers to enable the expansion of guidance and best implementation practices. FIND provides high-quality diagnostic services at scale through several health packages to address infectious diseases. FIND’s decentralized and resilient operating model enables maximum global and national impacts. Through FIND’s programmes in TB, sleeping sickness, and malaria, 11 tests have been delivered which have helped transform the diagnostics landscape for each of these disease areas. 

As diagnostics and treatment become more affordable and accessible, a surge in financial and political commitment to diagnose, treat and prevent HCV is urgently needed. The pilot at the Punjab prison demonstrates the need to expand and sustain the project in other Indian states, which can only be possible through strong partnerships at the state level. 

The positive impact created by FIND in the lives of several prison inmates is phenomenal as they could see some hope amidst ill-health and medical negligence. Even though medical treatments were complimentary for the prison inmates, traveling long distances to undergo the treatment was cumbersome and expensive for them. Hence screening, diagnosis, management, and treatment of HCV+ inmates were done within the prison premises. This way, a large number of relatively neglected and vulnerable victims of HCV have hugely benefited from the advanced diagnostic solutions provided by FIND.

The Way Forward

FIND has been instrumental in ensuring equitable access to reliable diagnosis around the world, connecting countries, and communities, funders, decision-makers, healthcare providers and developers to spur diagnostic innovation and make testing an integral part of sustainable, resilient health systems. Through this collaborative action, FIND aims to accelerate global efforts towards universal health coverage (UHC) and global health security. To help shape the diagnostic landscape of India, the Foundation has been working to strengthen and expand the country’s primary healthcare system by creating patient-centric models of care and bridging gaps in testing services for tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis, antenatal screening (including for non-communicable diseases), fever, pneumonia and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). They have been strengthening diagnostic surveillance and response systems as the Indians continue to combat COVID-19 and improve pandemic preparedness while addressing the “silent pandemic” of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Initiatives like developing POC tests to combat antimicrobial resistance, introducing a single-step screening test for Hepatitis C are some of the major milestones that enable the HCV victims to witness light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Also Read: Kumari GN Provides Nutrition with her Anganwadi Kitchen Garden

Author

Abhisikta Dey Ghosh is a business research and content professional for the last 14 years with leading brands from the industry. Her interest lies in authoring and weaving stories to foray into people's mind and hearts, thereby creating an ever lasting impact. Brand creation and management have been her forte using few magical words supported by language. A Master's Degree in Finance and Marketing with a passion for literature and language has certainly given her a huge platform to merge her educational expertise with passion, par excellence. Currently Abhisikta works as a Senior Consultant for Strategic Content and Research with Corporates, Edu-tech firms, CSR Foundations, Travel companies and Fintech majors. Abhisikta has a keen interest in music, dance and going on family adventure trips.

 

Suggest a Story: If you have similar story to refer, please fill in the form