Building on the experience of FLF, the leading patient advocacy organization, the NAFLD Screening Fund aims to identify and support at-risk populations to combat the rising incidence and mortality of NAFLD in the United States.
Monday, October 4, 2021, Boise, IDAHO — As October marks National Liver Awareness Month, the Fatty Liver Foundation (FLF) is launching the NAFLD Screening Fund, a new five-year, multi-stakeholder, public-private partnership aimed at accelerating progress in the detection, diagnosis, staging, care, and research of NAFLD among at-risk and asymptomatic populations in the United States, where there is a significant unmet need.
Despite advances in research, diagnosis, and care, NAFLD places a heavy burden on individuals, families, and health care systems. Before COVID-19, it was estimated that more than 100 million Americans had NAFLD or its more advanced and aggressive form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and most were unaware of it. Since the onset of COVID-19, the average American has gained 29 pounds, contributing to the growing burden of noncommunicable lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes, and greatly increasing the at-risk population who remain undiagnosed for NAFLD. The reality is that if diagnosed and addressed early enough, NAFLD can be reversed.
The level of screening for NAFLD among high-risk and asymptomatic populations remains woefully inadequate in medical and community-based settings and this lack of services has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. People with NAFLD and metabolic syndrome are four times more likely to develop severe manifestations of COVID-19 than those without NAFLD, regardless of the presence of diabetes. With COVID-19 disproportionately impacting people at-risk for and living with NAFLD by threatening their timely diagnosis and care, and increasing their risk of severe disease, it is more urgent than ever to address these health disparities. Though these same issues exist nationwide, they are particularly acute in underserved and non-white communities.
“NAFLD is an ignored epidemic. FLF intends to change the paradigm with the NAFLD Screening Fund. Our commitment to reimagining NAFLD screening is by helping to close the gaps in prevention and ensuring timely access to appropriate care and/or clinical trials for at-risk, asymptomatic populations through innovative screening models in underserved communities,” said Wayne Eskridge, CEO and Co-Founder of FLF. “We must work with other organizations and stakeholders in order to successfully raise awareness, address health disparities, and increase access to screening. We are at a tipping point where we can help catalyze and change the course of NAFLD diagnosis and care for all Americans.”
“The number of NAFLD cases is rising rapidly among the U.S. adult population (aged ≥15 years), and prior to COVID-19 was projected to reach 33.5% in 2030. We don’t yet know how extensive the long-term damage of the pandemic will be for chronic disease patients, but we can expect that it will likely catalyze more serious problems. Unfortunately, we are already making most diagnoses late in the course of disease, leading to potentially serious complications and outcomes,” says Neeraj Mistry, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of FLF. “The NAFLD Screening Fund is part of FLF’s broader commitment to mobilize new resources and strengthen the capacity of key NAFLD stakeholders to reverse these trends. This new initiative not only promises to prevent thousands of premature deaths, but also to contribute to greater equity in NAFLD care and research.”
FLF’s NAFLD Screening Fund is a public-private partnership to mobilize leading organizations from the private sector, philanthropic foundations, public health agencies, and non-profit organizations. The Fund is supported by leading companies and individuals from the private and philanthropic sectors including Applied Clinical Education, CME Zone, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, Inc., McMahon Group, and Terns Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Ms. Athena Pei Tung.
The NAFLD Screening Fund aims to achieve the following outcomes by 2026:
- Fund community-based screening projects for NAFLD/NASH in undiagnosed, asymptomatic at-risk populations.
- Drive awareness of NAFLD and the importance of early detection.
- Foster education about healthy lifestyles.
- Support NAFLD and NASH patients with linkage to care and clinical trial enrollment education.
- Strengthen networks and collaborations for NAFLD/NASH screening at local, regional, and national levels.
- Unite the voice of the NAFLD/NASH community, including patient organizations and groups, to advocate for more effective NAFLD/NASH screening, staging, and care.
- Provide data to guide research and regulatory decision making where patient interests are impacted.
“Key to reversing the rise in NAFLD cases and mortality rates is our ability to work together to leverage and expand the will and resources that currently exist, supporting the creation of a common agenda to maximize impact through collective action,” says Henry E. Chang, Executive Director of FLF. “In practical terms, with the necessary funding and expertise, the NAFLD Screening Fund has the potential to support 50,000 NAFLD patients, fund various NAFLD screening and lifestyle intervention projects that are designed to address health disparities among at-risk and underserved populations, and help accelerate the development of drug regimens for the treatment of NAFLD and NASH.”
Learn how you can help support the NAFLD Screening Fund and address this significant unmet need by contacting the Fund’s Secretariat at [email protected].
About the Fatty Liver Foundation
The Fatty Liver Foundation is a non-profit patient organization dedicated to improving the identification, diagnosis, treatment and support of people living with fatty liver, NAFLD or NASH through awareness, screening, education, and patient outreach. FLF’s goal is to improve the lives of both asymptomatic and diagnosed patients by raising awareness, advancing wellness screening, educating patients, and championing the development of responsive support systems for individuals of the growing epidemic of fatty liver disease. Connect with us on www.fattyliverfoundation.org, Facebook (Fatty Liver Foundation JUST LIVER NEWS), Twitter (@LiverSaver), and YouTube (Fatty Liver Foundation).
About the NAFLD Screening Fund
With recent advancements in the diagnostics and potential treatments for NAFLD, screening and testing are now the critical nexus between identification of disease and effective intervention. To meet this need, the NAFLD Screening Fund’s primary objective is to scale-up evidence-based screening and testing for NAFLD. Funded activities will boost the screening practices needed to identify asymptomatic disease and staging of NAFLD/NASH patients.
The expansion of screening and staging of fatty liver disease is a model of community outreach that has been proven by FLF in medical and community-based settings. The Fund’s impact will be expanded education and awareness of NAFLD, achieved through screening, which has been shown to empower individuals’ ownership and participation in their health and healthcare. Through multiple site collaborations, new screening technologies, improved data management systems, and more trained personnel, the Fund will be leveraged to rapidly scale up community screening efforts. The NAFLD Screening Fund will be the catalyst for greater patient engagement in research and development, including treatment preparedness as new therapies become available. It is a mechanism through which many streams of financial support, both public and private, can be coordinated and focused on this rapidly growing health threat.
Fatty Liver Foundation
Henry E. Chang | Mobile +1 917 400 8900 | [email protected]
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