What we did in 2020

Stire fara poza - What we did in 2020

A year in review

Dear colleagues, friends and supporters,

More than a year has now passed since our last review and it is high time for me to do a brief recap of the 2020 highlights in hepatology at a national level.

As we continue our work to eliminate viral hepatitis in Romania, 2020 started with the release of the HepC Awareness & Test-Linkage to care–Epidemiological Research-Treatment (HepC ALERT) campaign results. This campaign was launched under the auspices of the Romanian Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology  (SRGH) in partenership with the Romanian Association for Liver Diseases (RoALD), the Asociation of Patients Affected by Hepatic diseases in Romania  (APAH-RO) and a series of medical healthcare facilities (regional centers, clinical institutes, teaching hospitals and county hospitals) that provide gastroenterology services. Between the 5th of March 2019 and the 5th of March 2020, according to a test-and-treat approach, over 31.000 individuals were tested and 490 HCV-positive patients were detected (with a resulted prevalence of 1.39%). The results of the project are available on our website and can help to perform an analysis of the Hepatitis C epidemiological dynamics in Romania, as well as important conclusions that should be incorporated in the national strategy for eliminating viral hepatitis.

Shortly after, on March 11, the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, and we started implementing infection control measures, such as unprecedented physical distancing, quarantine and isolation in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protecting patients, staff and medical facilities.

As you likely know, an increasing number of congresses originally planned as in-person events have either been cancelled or postponed due to the continued spread of COVID-19 in Europe and the rest of the world. As a result, the National Congress of Gastroenterology and Hepatology scheduled for May 2020 was cancelled and the 7th Update on Hepatology Bucharest Course was postponed for  November 2nd 2020.

Many of our members have been in the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 during these times of crisis and several of the mentors and  notable members of the Romanian Society of Gastroenterology and Hepatology have passed away during this time without us being able to offer them the send-off that they deserved. Their passing has however been written about in our publications and on our websites.  We will always remember them.

Since June of 2020, scientific activity made a timid return, online, starting with a few local, limited scientific events and organizing comittee meetings.

Facing unprecedented challenges imposed by quarantine, stay-at-home orders, business and school closures and physical distancing, we learned to shift a part of our medical practice workload to telemedical activities and to share knowledge and research results in virtual spaces. Several professional and regulatory organizations have issued new guidance to facilitate this transition. In a very short time, digital technology and online meeting apps have become fully integrated into all facets of our activity.

On July 28th 2020 RoALD, in partnership with SRGH, APAH-RO with support from AbbVie, organized the first ample online event dedicated to the World Hepatitis Day, through the webinar „2030 - Romania without Hepatitis. Viral Hepatitis During and After the COVID-19 pandemic”. The program and main lectures of this event can also be found on the website.

In November 2020, RoALD hosted the re-scheduled 7th Update on Hepatology Course - Bucharest 2020. Unfortunately, due to the second wave of the ongoing global pandemic we did not feel it was appropriate to hold an in-person event. However, the virtual experience offered by our esteemed faculty and the attractive and fine-tuned program allowing for extensive interaction with the speakers received excellent feedback from the audience. You can find the Program, Faculty, Audience Report and feedback on our site. You can also access the archived presentations from the 2020 Update on Hepatology Course by using your username and password.

Lastly, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to our colleagues, including nurses, doctors, other health professionals and key workers in the field for their dedication, hard work, and flexibility throughout 2020.

When we look back at the past year, we will remember the COVID-19 pandemic and the unimaginable loss of life, morbidity and socio-economic impact it had. I hope that 2021 will be a time that reshapes us for the better and allows us to seize the opportunity to make meaningful changes, in addition to recovering from the impact of the pandemic