The Arabic Community Hepatitis B Project, a joint 5-month project of the MHAHS and South West Sydney Local Health District, has successfully concluded last week. Aimed at increasing awareness of hepatitis B testing and treatment in Arabic-speaking communities, the project registered a wealth of community action and support.

More than seven interviews with key health and community leaders and more than 360 public service announcements about hepatitis B were broadcast by key community radio stations. Twelve community education sessions were conducted with eight community organisations in 11 locations across Sydney.

“The sessions were flexible and designed to suit the nature of community gathering. They focused on the importance of testing as being the only way to find out if you have hepatitis  B as well as  the benefits of treatment. 99% of participants reported they learnt something new about hepatitis B and 95% said they would share the information with family and friends,” said project officer Ms Faten Solaqa.

Ms Solaqa said one of the project’s initial challenges was introducing  the topic of hepatitis B to the community. She described the project as being valuable in terms of learning how local communities engaged with a potentially unfamiliar topic.

“Our vision was to create a community that is aware of hepatitis B and able to access  the services it needs from the local health system. Our motto was to give the Arabic-speaking community a voice, get them to talk about hepatitis B and ask their doctor for a test,” said Faten.

Working in partnership with health and community organisations is a key component of MHAHS’ work. The service has a long history of successfully implementing programs to engage with and build the capacity of culturally diverse communities.

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