Empowering CALD communities affected by Hepatitis B utilising bilingual trained Health workers

A report back on Marrianne Blacks Hepatitis B and the CALD community: A unique community based nursing model of care utilising Bi-Lingual community health workers.

Majority of CALD communities in Australia originate from areas with high prevalence of Hep B and majority of them are completely unaware of their Hep B status until their arrival in Australia where the diagnosis is made. After the diagnosis most of them are clueless what it to is and what it means their lives. When they are under perception that it is acquired through sex it can lead to a marriage breakdown, leaving them alienated by families and friends. This is compounded by the failure of GP’s to explain adequately to patients about the disease process, what it means to them, long-term plan management and surveillance that is required when they have the virus. 

The Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland (ECCQ) is Nurse led Model charity based program that utilises trained health worker from CALD communities to support and educate people affected by Viral Hepatitis and other sexually transmitted disease/HIV. The purpose of the charity is to improve engagement and access to care and management to prevent any potential adverse outcomes that could arise from failure to adhere to treatment and liver surveillance. Health workers explain the disease, test and treatment in a language that they can understand, patients are also able to ask any questions and concerns they might have in their own language. They also provide emotional support for people that are facing social stigma by their families or friends due to their condition.

ECCQ liaise and collaborates with GP’s from high level of CALD communities to link all patients with Hep B with the services. It also engages with CALD communities to promote awareness about hepatitis B and where to get support if they have hepatitis B.

This model of care is a great example of closing the gap and promoting CALD communities to engage and access treatment without been threaten by navigating through the complex systems of general hospitals. It removes the language barrier that exists in most CALD communities that impedes them from accessing services and care. It also helps to clear any misunderstanding and perception about hepatitis B which can help to eliminate social stigma that emanate from having hepatitis B in the CALD communities. Explaining the condition by someone with similar cultural background and in your own language facilitates engagement in hepatitis B care and management.

This model of care could also be applicable to all other chronic diseases in CALD communities who fail to engage in continuity of care due to language breakdown and misunderstanding about the disease.

Author bio: Tupokiwe is a clinical nurse working in Townsville in sexual health